Aventura — Through participating in Nickelodeon actor Michael D. Cohen's Trans Youth Acting Challenge, 13-year-old transgender actor Sasha A. Cohen has been cast for the live-action show "Danger Force" appearing on June 19.
This is the first time Nickelodeon has cast an openly trans teen. Sasha's twin sister Natalie R. Cohen will also be featured in the new series.
"I had never felt comfortable about who I am, and I always thought that I would never play a transgender role," Sasha Cohen told Variety. "But there are so many kids out there who need to see someone like them — a role model who has the ability to put themselves out there."
Michael Cohen, who directed and co-wrote the show, launched the challenge in December, almost two years after he publicly revealed his transition around 20 years before. Sasha was selected out of 200 applications for the class of 15.
"I want Sasha to see his own power as an actor and as a human," Cohen told Variety. "I want him to feel proud of his work and feel real confident in himself in every aspect and to know that he will help change kids' lives by being the first kid of trans experience on Nickelodeon in live action."
Nickelodeon's executive vice president of programming and content strategy Paul DeBenedittis celebrated Sasha's casting.
"It has long been Nickelodeon's mission to be a home for all kids, and to authentically represent them in their full diversity," he said. "This episode of Danger Force ultimately tells a relatable story of friendship, openness and trust, through the lens of a sitcom. We're incredibly proud of it and of everyone involved."