‘Willow’ Star Erin Kellyman talks about the importance of LGBTQ+ representation on-screen.

'Willow' Characters Jade and Kit close and facing each other as if to embrace one another.

Warning: This story contains spoilers for Episode 5 of “Willow” on Disney+

‘Willow’ star Erin Kellyman has opened up about the importance of playing a queer character in the Disney+ fantasy show.

The British actress who previously starred in Falcon, Winter Soldier and Topboy, plays Jade, an aspiring knight, in the remake of Ron Howard’s 1988 fantasy adventure of the same name.

Audiences have seen Jade and her best friend, Princess Kit (played by Ruby Cruz), grow increasingly close and in the most recent episode, ‘Wildwood’, the romantic tension finally comes to a head as the pair reveal their true feelings for one another.

Kellyman said: “It feels like I’m healing my inner child. Having not seen these shows when I was younger, now being able to be the representation that I didn’t have is something that is so peaceful. There’s something so peaceful about it, something so reassuring and calming. I know that if I saw this when I was a kid, I would have been completely in love with Kit and Jade, and I would have felt a lot less isolated and scared and weird. So, it’s just really beautiful to be able to do that now.”

The series has been widely praised for centring an LGBTQ+ relationship, which comes after Disney’s vowed to bring more LGBTQ+ characters into its shows and movies earlier this year, in move towards greater inclusivity.

Kellyman, who is openly gay, hopes that Kit and Jade’s journey can be the normalised representation that the actress didn’t have growing up.

Kellyman said: “They’re just in love with each other. I think that normalized representation is really important and something I just didn’t have. I never saw that anywhere. I think if I had ‘Willow’ when I was 14, I would have felt a lot less lonely.”

Both Cruz and Kellyman feel the characters’ relationship is particularly ground-breaking for LGBTQ+ representation, as it’s not rooted in trauma or sex, but is instead just a positive queer love story, something that was sorely lacking on TV for both growing up.

Cruz said: “I feel like growing up, there was such a lack of lesbian representation. And usually the lesbian relationships and queer relationships are sexualised … I thought that building a really meaningful emotional connection that people can relate to and see themselves in was a really important and cool opportunity for us to have.”

Kellyman said: “I think it’s so beautifully written. It’s been so beautifully created. It’s not a story where they’re worried about being gay. It’s not a story where they’re hyper-sexualised. It’s just two people being in love. The gender is secondary. I think it’s really beautiful and also needed. I think for anybody that is struggling with realising that they’re gay, having this normalised representation is just so important.

Going forward, Kellyman hopes to continue to make an impact and inspiring audiences by playing characters and telling stories that provide meaningful LGBTQ onscreen representation.

She said: “I have always wanted and still want to play characters that I feel like I didn’t have growing up, so that I can give that to people who might not have seen themselves [onscreen],” the actress says. I’ve had experiences meeting young girls that have seen my characters, and it’s been so emotional, and that has been the highlight of my career. I want to continue to do that.”

 ‘Willow’ can be streamed on Disney+, where new episodes are released every Wednesday.

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