The Disney Channel recently introduced its first-ever trans character. The character was introduced on Raven’s Home, a spinoff from the popular Disney show That’s So Raven, where Raven Baxter (played by Raven Simone) has two children, one of which inherited her psychic abilities.
Actress Juliana Joel plays Nikki, a recurring character who was hired as Raven’s assistant. The actress is openly trans and is an advocate for trans rights and the LGBTQ community. Growing up, she shared on her Instagram post that she used to dream of being on That’s So Raven.
Her character Nikki was introduced in season 5 episode 15 entitled The Fierce Awakens. Joel later confirmed on her Instagram that, like her, her character was trans.
Joel wrote: “1st out Trans character on Disney Channel? I can finally share that I’ve joined the season 5 cast of Raven’s Home on Disney Channel!
“Growing up as a kid in Florida (like many other kids) I dreamt of being on the Disney Channel, specifically on That’s So Raven. It was my favorite show & Raven Baxter was my best friend in my mind. It was my escape from what I was going through internally. Coming from a typical Puerto Rican family, I didn’t think being an actor was possible esp for someone like me, I thought you had to be born into that world.
“Fast forward to becoming an actor I then told myself I wasn’t young enough to be on Disney anymore & even if that wasn’t the case I’m TRANS! I’d never seen an out trans actor or character on the Disney Channel. EVER. Needless to say I cried in my dressing room after walking onto that set the first time. It was a moment where it hit me that I not only get to live out my childhood dream on a version of my favorite show…I get to do it as my authentic self and with a character that is openly trans.”
“But it was really more than just being on the show. With all of the anti-trans hate and narratives in media and society, it was a win. I claimed a dream and space for myself while so much of the world is trying to erase me & my community. And now I get to be that person I wish I had to watch on TV growing up. So never tell yourself it can’t happen because it can, in ways you never dreamt possible.”
She also thanked the show’s episode writer, Nori Reed, who is queer.
“Massive shout out to @norireed the writer of this episode who created my character Nikki. She is such a talented, badass person and comedic genius. And of course thank you to the entire cast & crew for being so welcoming, every episode was such a blast to be a part of.”