In "Good Trouble," Brooklyn-born actress Daisy Eagan is sharing an LGBTQ+ story that’s not often told on major network television. And if she changes just one viewer’s experience for the better, she’s achieved a monumental goal.
"I don’t know if I could ask for anything better. I mean, maybe to be in the opening credits," the actress jokes, "but barring that, I’m on cloud nine."
Eagan, 39, plays radio talk-show host, Joey Riverton, who’s dating leading characters Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana’s (Cierra Ramirez) building manager, Alice Kwan (Sherry Cola).
In the series’ second season on Freeform, Joey comes out as nonbinary, meaning their gender identity is not exclusively male or female. Alice and the group learn Joey’s preferred gender pronouns are they/them. Joey is one of few nonbinary characters on TV, and one of the only to tell their coming out story.
Below, Eagan — who lives in Los Angeles while filming the Freeform series, but is originally from Park Slope — discusses the breakthrough role.
What does it mean to you to be one of the few nonbinary characters we have on major network television today?
I cannot say enough how proud I am that I get to tell this story. I think Joey is the first person to come out as nonbinary on network television. I know there’s at least one other nonbinary character, on "Billions," but I think Joey is the first one that we see go through the process, which is so vital. It’s happening with so many people right now, and as we all know, representation matters.
The fact that I get to be a part of this story is just thrilling. Especially because I spent much of my life and career knowing that I was queer and basically trying to look less queer in order to get work. The fact that I get to now just look how I want to look and have gainful employment, it’s so affirming for me in my personal journey with gender.
Your portrayal of Joey might help somebody at home who’s able to see themselves represented for the first time — is that the goal?
Yes, 100%. If I make an impact in one person’s life, it’s been worth it. I’ve gotten feedback through social media from people who have said thank you for telling this story. I feel seen, finally. For those kids who might be struggling quietly because they don’t have a safe place to express themselves, to at least see yourself reflected in one person who is loved and accepted is completely priceless and invaluable.
A queer character’s sexual identity often becomes their whole storyline. How does "Good Trouble" work to make sexuality one part of its characters?
You know, I think there was a minute there, well a long time there, where every gay story, especially if it was about a man, was about AIDS. A lot of time when we see LGBTQ+ stories it’s the struggle of what it is to be LGBTQ+. We are finally getting to that place … a lot of the LGBTQ+ stories we see are so much about the struggle, and not as much about the daily life. I heard this on an interview on NPR. I thought, but "Good Trouble" is doing it! The creators and showrunners are all queer themselves, so their entire purpose is just to show life as life is.
This season has given you the chance to explore Joey’s romantic relationship, and see how Alice learns to accept them as they are. How might Joey’s path change their dynamic?
There is a trope that your first lesbian or queer relationship is full of drama. There’s a joke that everyone has to have their "L Word" relationship, which is where you just break up 300 times and get back together. There’s usually a lot of intrigue from parties on the outside. There’s going to be a lot of that. Joey is serving to help Alice figure out her place in the queer world and who she is as a queer person.
ON TV: "Good Trouble" airs new episodes Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Freeform.