It maybe hard to give Jessica Jones season 3 the same level of attention as other Marvel Cinematic Universe TV projects, given that we know it will be the final entry in the Marvel Netflix saga. And yet, even though Jessica Jones season 3 is the end of Marvel Netflix, that's not stopping it from accomplishing some milestone firsts for the MCU!
Here's one important glass ceiling Jessica Jones season 3 is breaking: introducing the MCU's first transgender character!
Unlike, say, the (brief) first appearance of the MCU's first openly gay characters in Avengers: Endgame, the franchise's first trans character actually has a big supporting role to play in Jessica Jones season 3. That character is Jessica's new assistant, Gillian, who is played by Aneesh Sheth, and Indian actress who moved to America as a child and studied the arts at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Sheth had a big breakout starring on Broadway's national tour of the 2000s Bollywood-themed musical production Bombay Dreams, and has previous TV credits that include New Amsterdam, Difficult People, Crave, and Outsourced. When not performing, Sheth has worked as a youth counselor within the LGBTQ community, for the suicide-prevention charity The Trevor Project.
iNews UK spoke too Sheth during production on Jessica Jones season 3, highlighting how the show was planning to approach the trans character of Gillian:
“I am transgender and the character of Gillian is also trans. But there’s no mention of her being trans within the show, nor a narrative around her identity," Sheth said. "Which I think is wonderful because trans people exist in the world and it’s not always about their [trans] 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. Marginalized actors are getting the power to create narratives within shows like this. I think that’s really important.”
It's not hard for a character like Jessica Jones not to dwell on identity: she tends to be equal-opportunity when it comes to people annoying her. Gillian gets no different treatment:
"I know that Gillian does care for [Jessica]," Sheth said. "And it probably goes vice versa. There’s definitely moments that Krysten and I have played where there’s some kind of empathy for each other, but it’s mostly, [from] what we see, at arm’s length.”
As Sheth also pointed out, she's not officially the first trans actor to appear in an MCU Netflix show - just the first to play a character who is officially trans within the show:
“I have had friends who are trans who have been on [Jessica Jones] before. They were talking about their experiences and it was wonderful to hear. Shakina Nayfack played a pawn shop clerk in the last season. And then MJ Rodriguez, who is playing Blanca on Pose right now, was in a couple of episodes of Luke Cage.”
Jessica Jones season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.