Jesse James Keitel has made LGBTQ+ television history.
The actor is set to become the first nonbinary series regular in a lead role on prime-time TV as Jerrie on Big Sky, an ABC drama that also stars Kylie Bunbury, Katheryn Winnick, and Ryan Phillippe.
At Big Sky's Thursday streaming premiere party, Bunbury, Winnick, and Phillippe raised a glass to Keitel in celebration of the historic moment.
"First of all, she's incredible. But she's representing for nonbinary people, and for ABC to do this and to have Jesse, who is incredibly talented, I feel like that's worthy of a cheers," said Bunbury, who led the toast with her castmates in a Q&A moderated by Variety reporter Angelique Jackson.
Previously, Keitel appeared in Alex Strangelove, Younger, and the Student Academy Award-winning film Miller & Son. Big Sky, created by David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies), centers on the hunt for an abductor of women in Montana. Jerrie, a transfeminine nonbinary artist and sex worker, is one of his targets.
In a prior interview with The Advocate, Keitel, who uses they/them and she/her pronouns, said they hoped the story may “change some hearts and minds” among conservative viewers regarding nonbinary and transgender people. Television is “the most powerful medium we have right now,” Keitel said. “It’s accessible to so many people, people who normally wouldn’t get to experience a person like this.”
In addition to featuring Keitel, Big Sky is notable for being ABC's only new fall drama. Due to filming limitations caused by the pandemic, the cast was moved to Vancouver, where the first season is still in production.
Watch the trailer below, and catch Big Sky Tuesday at 10 p.m. Eastern on ABC.