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.

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