Jen Richards Joins ’Nashville’ Season 5 & She’ll Be The First Transgender Actress On CMT

When everyone’s favorite un-cancelled country music soap opera starring Connie Britton returns to the small screen in 2017, the ensemble cast will welcome a few new characters to the mix, including a role played by Emmy-nominated actress Jen Richards. On Tuesday, the network announced that transgender actress/producer/writer/activist Jen Richards has been added to the Nashville cast. She will portray the recurring character Allyson Del Lago, “a tough but understanding physical therapist who helps a series regular through one of their most difficult challenges,” on the fifth season of the scripted drama. Richards will be the first out transgender actress to appear on CMT, and Allyson Del Lago will be CMT's first transgender character.

This is both an awesome and important move for the network: It promotes inclusivity and, hopefully, will help to increase trans visibility on television in addition to paving the way for more transgender actors and actresses to join the network.

In addition to Nashville, Richards’s credits include star, co-writer, and producer of the Emmy-nominated web series Her Story; co-producer of docuseries More Than T; a role on upcoming CBS drama Doubt; series regular on I Am Cait; a role on Logo’s Beautiful As I Want to Be; and on appearance on AOL Originals show True Trans with Laura Jane Grace.

The former ABC television program will make its CMT debut when the fifth season of Nashville premieres on Jan. 5 at 9 p.m. ET.