Jen Richards, an Emmy-nominated writer, actress and producer, has been added to the cast of Nashville for Season 5.

Richards will play Allyson Del Lago, "a tough but understanding physical therapist who helps a series regular through one of their most difficult challenges," according to CMT. The actress is transgender and will be both the first out transgender castmember on a CMT show and portraying the first transgender character in CMT's history.

Also a consultant and advocate, Richards was nominated for an Emmy for the series Her Story, which she co-wrote, starred in and produced. Prior to her transition, the Mississippi-born actress worked in non-profit and arts management and was active in theater. More information about Richards is available on her official website.

Richards won't be Nashville's only new face when Season 5 begins: Carolina Chocolate Drops co-founder Rhiannon Giddens is joining the cast as Hanna Lee “Hallie” Jordan, a social worker with some incredible pipes, and showrunners are casting for the role of Clay, "a creative, self-aware, highly motivated young man who suffers intense mood swings, but is nonetheless charming and outgoing."

Season 5 of Nashville will premiere on CMT on Jan. 5. The network picked up the show for a fifth season in early June, following ABC’s cancellation of the TV drama in mid-May, and thanks in part to fan demandNashville will be broadcast and streamed on CMT, and also streamed on Hulu, which currently carries the show’s previous seasons.

Country Stars Who Have Acted in TV Shows and Movies