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Actress Jen Richards Is Headed to 'Nashville'

Jen Richards is headed to "Nashville," and she's making history. The actress will play a physical therapist in the upcoming season of the Country Music Television (CMT) show -- making her the first transgender character and the first out transgender actor on the network.
Outfest West Hollywood Screening Of "Her Story"
Actress Jen Richards attends the Outfest West Hollywood screening of "Her Story" at West Hollywood City Council Chamber on January 6, 2016.Vincent Sandoval / Getty Images

Jen Richards is headed to "Nashville," and she's making history.

The actress has landed a recurring role on the Country Music Television (CMT) series, the network announced Tuesday. She will play physical therapist Allyson Del Lago. Her character is described as "tough, but understanding" and will help one of the characters through an exceptionally difficult time. The identity of the character whom Richards' character will help is unknown.

Richards will not only be the first out transgender person on a CMT show -- she will also play the network's first transgender character.

"Nashville" stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere as two successful country artists. The show follows them and those around them as they navigate life in the Tennessee capital.

While Richards will play the first transgender character, "Nashville" is already telling another LGBTQ story. Chris Carmack joined the cast of "Nashville" in a recurring role in its first season playing aspiring country artist Will Lexington. Viewers learned he was a closeted gay man and watched him struggling with his sexuality after being upgraded to series regular in Season 2.

Richards is a trailblazer who has done a significant amount of work to create spaces for trans storytelling. She appeared alongside Caitlyn Jenner on "I Am Cait" and served as co-writer, producer and star of web series "Her Story." The series, which followed two trans women who were navigating complex romantic situations, earned an Emmy nomination.

More recently, Richards made her feelings known about the casting of Matt Bomer in "Anything," a film in which he will play a trans woman. She released a string of tweets explaining how she felt about the casting and finally put her thoughts online through a YouTube video.

"Nashville" aired for four seasons on ABC before being cancelled. CMT later saved the series and brought it over to its network for a fifth season, which will premiere January 5.

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