In its previous seasons, Netflix series “Jessica Jones” is said to have explored topics such as PTSD, sexual assault, and trauma. Now the Marvel season, currently streaming its third and final season, from June 14, has ticked off one more socially-relevant topic: trans inclusion. And the person who has helped bring forth that change is an Indian-American.
Meet Aneesh Sheth, who plays Gillian, Jessica’s new assistant, who, according to Refinery 29, “helps manage her P.I. business.” The actress told iNews that while she herself is trans and so is her character on the show, “there’s no mention of her being trans within the show, nor a narrative around her identity.” She said it is “wonderful because trans people exist in the world and it’s not always about their [trans] narrative.”
Pink News, a UK-based online newspaper marketed to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, quoting Sheth’s interview to iNews, said Sheth had “a big discussion with Melissa Rosenberg [the creator of Jessica Jones] about where we thought Gillian came from, and her background.” Seth said that the most exciting part as an actor “is to be able to have a say in where I want this story to go.” She added: “Marginalized actors are getting the power to create narratives within shows like this. I think that’s really important.”
According to her website, Sheth, who was born in Pune in India and relocated to New York at an early age, quickly found a passion for music. At 6 years old, she began studying piano and by middle school she had also picked up the flute and began voice training. Having sung classically up through high school, she then attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for Musical Theatre. After receiving her BFA, she performed in various musicals including the Broadway National Tour of A.R. Rahman's “Bombay Dreams” as Sweetie in 2006.
In 2008, Sheth returned to New York University to pursue a Master's Degree in Social Work. During her masters and later, she worked with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth as a counselor with The Trevor Project and a patient advocate at Beth Israel Medical Center. In 2010 she relocated to San Francisco and then to Seattle in 2013. She returned to the stage working with several regional companies. Currently back in her hometown of New York City, Sheth is most notably known as Carly in the Public Theater production of “Southern Comfort,” which garnered six nominations, two Lucille Lortel wins and a New York Times Critic's Pick. Sheth made her network debut as a guest star on NBC's “Outsourced” (2011) and has since appeared in Hulu's “Difficult People,” HBO's “High Maintenance” and NBC's “New Amsterdam.” She also had a cameo in IFC's “A Kid Like Jake,” alongside Priyanka Chopra and Jim Parsons. Along with her work in theater, film, and television, Sheth is an event host, trans activist, panelist and committee member with many national organizations. In March 2013, Advocate Magazine honored her on their 40 Under 40 List.