'Good Trouble' star Daisy Eagan dishes on the thrill of playing Joey, one of TV's first non-binary characters
With the ever-evolving representation of minorities and queer characters on TV, it's a surprise that when it comes to non-binary characters, the total number of them on screen has been less than 10. However, there's no denying that a couple of decades ago, even coming this far would have been deemed an unachievable feat.
Actress and comedian Daisy Eagan, who plays one of the non-binary characters on TV feels the same way. As Joey, Eagan stars as the new partner for 'Good Trouble's fan-favorite character Alice Kwan, played by the incredible Sherry Cola. Reflecting on the same, Eagan tells us how incredible it is to be part of a show that values her input, and how otherworldly the experience is of fans approaching her about finally feeling "seen".
"I think that Joey and I sort of inform each other, so it has been a pretty easy transition," Eagan says in an exclusive interview with MEA Worldwide (MEAWW), about fitting into Joey's shoes. "The team has been really keen on having my input, so I've been able to help craft the character," she says, noting that the rarity of a character like this being showcased on TV is what drew her to the role.
"They were looking for somebody to represent a kind of character that I don't think is shown on TV often enough. When I went in for the part, Joey was a masculine-presenting lesbian and once the season premiered, you learn the Joey's actually non-binary. So I think it was mostly an issue of representation. I'm very interested in being on the forefront of the movement to help underrepresented people see themselves reflected in popular culture so that we can start to change the minds of people who haven't quite gotten there yet."
Apart from Eagan's Joey, there are five very prominent non-binary characters on TV. From 'Billions' Taylor Mason and 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's Suzie Putnam to 'Degrassi: Next Class' Yael Baron, 'Vida's Sam, and 'Good Girls' Sadie, today's television has some very compelling non-binary characters who even though are not always explicitly out there, have always managed to leave a deep impact on viewers.
Noting this ever-evolving culture of showing a more diverse representation on screen, Eagan shares: "I think representation has come an immensely long way (in Hollywood), and I know that there are a lot of younger people who would say it hasn't come far enough, and it certainly hasn't. But I think I think that we should take a second, look at it and appreciate how far we have come in the same way that I think it's important to look back at the people who have fought our battles for us before we came along."
And one of the ongoing battles, according to Eagan, is how the spectrum of gender is not given its due credit. "Gender is a spectrum way more than I think we have given it credit," Eagan remarks. "Giving it credit, listening to the LGBT community, and really paying attention to what they have to say and the issues that matter most to them is vital when writing these kinds of characters," she notes.
But it is always an ongoing process and as Eagan spills, a lot of Joey is borrowed from what she, as a person, brings to the table. "I really love doing television because the actor who is cast in a role, generally helps to inform where that character will go, and I think that I've helped the creators to figure out where they want Joey to go," says Eagan.
She adds: "I don't know if they had the plan of having Joey come out as non-binary or if that was something that my involvement helped, but I've been on my own gender identity journey over the past one year to figure out where I sit on the binary, and I think that's definitely informed Joey and my getting to portray Joey has also helped me to figure out myself."
When she is not playing Alice's very sorted partner, who is constantly pushing her towards big steps, Eagan likes to invest her time in stand-up comedy and writing. But what she definitely holds precious is all the fan love and affection playing such a nuanced non-binary character has brought her way.
"It's such an interesting thing to be an actor in this age of social media where people can just reach out to you directly!" she muses. "It's been thrilling to see young people who are struggling with some of these issues come to me and say 'I finally feel seen', and 'this is so important', and 'thank you for reflecting me'. It just makes the job so much more than a job — it makes it that much more worthwhile."
'Good Trouble' season 2 airs on Tuesdays at 9 pm on Freeform.