Shorty Street fans will know the subject of bullying has come up in a recent storyline, and has been handled with a show of true emotional strength, by the TV drama's first-ever transgender actor.
Tash Keddy (20), has been on the show now for six months, and plays Blue – a teenage girl who wants to be a boy.
In recent weeks, Blue has had to deal with schoolyard bully, Jasper, a particularly nasty character who threatens to set fire to him after dousing him with lighter fluid.
Blue takes Jasper down by reporting him to the police, showing viewers this was the best way to deal with the situation.
This issue, along with others Tash's character has bought to light, affects lives, and having the opportunity to delve into these makes a difference.
"Having subjects like bullying and transgender issues highlighted on a prime time television show like Shortland Street really has an impact," Tash told the New Zealand Herald.
"The kind of bullying portrayed on the show has been extreme and is not something I have experienced in my own life but it was a real eye-opener and it is rewarding to see the bully get his comeuppance.
"I hope it will inspire others to stand up for people who they know or suspect are being bullied.”
Tash told the New Zealand Herald the show’s viewers are behind him, and that lately he’s gotten a lot of messages of support and encouragement.
"I have had a lot of cool letters of support from viewers recently, so hopefully the message is getting across that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable."
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