Actor Emile Jacobs, aged 19, was born a girl and named Louise, but he says he never felt like a girl. It's the first time that an actor making the transition has been asked to portray a transgender character.
The movie "Girl" that was showered with prizes was criticised because the main character Lara isn't portrayed by a transgender girl, but by a male actor. In the Flemish soap “Thuis” a transgender woman Kaat is portrayed by a female actor. Ketnet's decision to cast a transgender actor for its teenage audience is a striking first.
The episode featuring Emile is being aired tonight. The show follows the lives of four teenagers. Tonight character Lewis arrives in a new class and introduces himself: "My name is Lewis. I used to be Louise." Lewis acknowledges he was pestered at his previous school and that's why he's now changed to a new one.
Emile tell reporters he hopes to serve as a role model for transgender youngsters and not to be seen as a rarity: "This role shows we're just ordinary people and not a particular race" Emile told Het Laatste Nieuws. "It’s important children have role models." Bo Van Spilbeeck, the celebrated TV journalist, who in her fifties announced her transition, served as an inspiring example.
"I admire Bo. She gave me a mental boost to own up to others in my class. Without her I wouldn't be where I am today and I have no regrets."