Zoe Terakes, the first transgender and non-binary actor to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, says that they are “deeply grateful” to have been cast in the upcoming Ironheart series because it will give “little trans kids and trans teens something to look at and know they exist”.
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Terakes, perhaps best known for portraying Reb Keane on the Australian soap opera Wentworth, publicly shared their gratitude for the opportunity to join the Disney Plus series during a recent Sundance film festival press event held in promotion of the actor’s new A24 horror film Talk to Me.
Asked by Collider’s Perri Nemiroff “what does joining the MCU mean for you personally and what influence do you want to have on that franchise?”, Terakes proclaimed excitement at the representation their casting would provide to transgender youth.
“I think as trans people, growing up I didn’t get to see myself anywhere, so I didn’t really know that I existed,” said the actor, who identifies as a non-binary transgender man.
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“And especially not in a superhero show or movie,” added Terakes. “And so I think I just feel deeply grateful and moved that little trans kids and trans teens have something to look at and to know they exist and to know that they can have superpowers, and that that’s where we belong.”
“We don’t just belong in trauma stories on the fringes dying in things, you know?” concluded the Australian native. “We belong there with the big guys. So yeah, it meant a lot to me.”
As announced by Deadline in an August 10th exclusive, Terakes is set to appear in the MCU television series in an as-of-yet-undisclosed “key role”.
In addition to Terakes, the series will also star Dominique Thorne, reprising her role as the eponymous Ironheart from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and Ru Paul’s Drag Race star Jaren Kyei Merrell – better known by their stage name Shea Couleé .
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Ironheart’s LGBT casting follows now-former Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s March 2022 declaration that, after being embroiled in controversy regarding their initial desire to remain apolitical regarding Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill-turned-Law, the company would be using their content to promote their ideal version of the world.
“There’s a reason [LGBTQ+] content is at the top of this list,” explained Chapek in a company-wide email. “For nearly a century, our company’s stories have opened minds, inspired dreams, shown the world both as it is and how we wish it could be, and now more than ever before, represent the incredible diversity of our society.”
“We are telling important stories, raising voices, and I believe, changing hearts and minds,” he continued. “Encanto, Black Panther, Pose, Reservation Dogs, Coco, Soul, Modern Family, Shang-Chi, Summer of Soul, Love, [and] Victor. These and all of our diverse stories are our corporate statements and they are more powerful than any tweet or lobbying effort.”
“I firmly believe that our ability to tell such stories – and have them received with open eyes, ears, and hearts – would be diminished if our company were to become a political football in any debate,” said Chapek. “Powerful content that changes hearts and minds only springs from inclusive cultures, which not only attract and retain the best and most diverse talent, but also give those employees the freedom to bring forth ideas that reflect their lives and experiences.”
Ironheart is currently set to suit-up on Disney Plus sometime in Fall 2023.
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