Nickelodeon is joining with one of its transgender actors to roll out a “trans youth acting challenge” for young people who identify as trans or nonbinary and want to pursue an acting career.
The children’s network is working with actor Michael D. Cohen for the project. Cohen played a character named Schwoz in the show “Henry Danger,” which aired from 2014 to 2020.
Cohen claimed in a 2019 interview with Time magazine to have assumed a male identity two decades ago after having been assigned female at birth.
Since the revelation, Cohen said: “I’ve been getting a lot of DMs and emails from trans kids around the world who, like me when I was a kid, had dreams of becoming an actor. So I went to Nickelodeon and said I really want to help make it possible for these kids to realize their dreams. So together we are partnering to create the ‘Michael D. Cohen Trans Youth Acting Challenge.’”
“The ‘Michael D. Cohen Trans Youth Acting Challenge’ is open to any transgender and/or non-binary youth who love acting,” Cohen continued. “Whatever talents your child has, we want to see them. And we need you to help them put together their audition tape. We’re going to pick 12 submissions and they will be invited to participate in a very special Zoom acting master class with me.”
“And everyone who submits a tape will be invited to participate in a webinar with me and the Nickelodeon casting team to ask whatever questions are on their minds,” Cohen added.
After clarifying that only young U.S. or Canadian citizens who identify as transgender or nonbinary are eligible, Cohen said: “I’m so excited to see these auditions. This is a dream come true for me, too.”
During the interview with Time, Cohen complained especially about alleged rollbacks of rights for trans people under the Trump administration.
“This crazy backlash and oppression of rights is happening right in front of me. I can’t stay silent,” Cohen said. “The level of — let’s be polite — misunderstanding around trans issues is so profound and so destructive. When you disempower one population, you disempower everybody.”
Nickelodeon’s initiative was announced a day after actress Ellen Page announced a new identity as a transgender man named Elliot.
It was reported:
“Juno” star Ellen Page announced a transgender identity, new pronouns, and a name change to “Elliot” on Tuesday, for which many congratulated the Academy Award nominee, including some companies.
“Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot,” Page said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self.”
Page went on to express that the joy of coming out as trans was “fragile” because it was fraught with fear. “The statistics are staggering. The discrimination towards trans people is rife, insidious, and cruel, resulting in horrific consequences. In 2020 alone it has been reported that at least 40 transgender people have been murdered, the majority of which were Black and Latinx trans women.”