Teen actor Tom Phelan says Rosie
O'Donnell helped him get over being nervous on the set of The
On the show, Phelan, who identifies as
non-binary, plays Cole, a transgender boy placed in a group home for
girls run by O'Donnell.
“It was totally awesome,” Phelan
about working with O'Donnell.
“It was my first time doing anything,
so I had no idea where I was or where I should go. The first thing
we shot was the opening scene, with Callie first being introduced to
the home. It was really, really nerve-wracking because Rosie is just
such an icon and a presence. She was totally down-to-earth and very
sweet, and she made a point to strike up a conversation with anyone
who was new or nervous. It was wonderful to watch her work, because
she's known for her comedy, but her dramatic acting is just as
When asked, “What do you hope viewers
will learn about trans people from your portrayal of Cole?” Phelan
answered: “Just that trans people are real, we exist, and we're not
going away. It's really important for [cisgender, or nontrans]
people to educate themselves. I really hope they take that away.
Learn the terms, learn the pronouns, and get used to it because we're