The superhero genre is forging the path for representation, like few other genres. Marvel chose Indian-American actor, Aneesh Sheth to play the first transgender character in Jessica Jones season 3. An openly trans actress, Sheth is cast as Gillian, an assistant in Jessica’s detective agency. Originally born in Pune before moving to America at a young age, Sheth burst on to the scene in 2011’s Outsourced.
Sheth’s gender is incidental, as it should be
While speaking about her excitement of being a part of the project, Sheth mentioned that there’s no mention of her gender on the show. Which is wonderful, considering how the trans population exist in the regular world without necessarily hijacking a narrative.
“I had a big discussion with Melissa Rosenberg (the creator of Jessica Jones) about where we thought Gillian came from, and her background. That’s very exciting as an actor, to be able to have a say in where I want this story to go. Marginalised actors are getting the power to create narratives within shows like this. I think that’s really important,” Sheth was quoted by UK-based publication, iNews.
How superheroes are championing representation
This casting decision comes only a few months after Ruby Rose was cast as an openly lesbian Batwoman. This also comes barely a year after Supergirl cast Nicole Maines as TV’s first transgender superhero, albeit in a brief role. Marvel is set to hire Aneesh Sheth only 18 months after the world witnessed Hollywood’s first African superhero in Black Panther and the first Afro-Hispanic boy to play the lead in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. With the conventional white leads being all but cancelled for superhero gigs, the casting choices are now a breath of fresh air.
Kevin Feige has, time and again, spoken of the need for a show around Ms. Marvel – a teenage Muslim girl based out of New Jersey. She appears in the Captain Marvel comics, and a show has been in development for a while now. It will be interesting to see how it impacts the landscape, when it drops.
Season 3 will be the last in line for Jessica Jones, with all the other Defenders being cancelled by Netflix.