‘Big Sky’: Who Plays Jerrie Kennedy? The Nonbinary Actor Opens Up About Identity

Although Jerrie Kennedy joined the Big Sky cast in season 1, viewers still want to know more about who plays the transgender character. In Big Sky Season 2, Jerrie becomes a private investigator, so their gender is no longer a significant part of the storyline. However, after watching Big Sky Season 2 Episode 4, viewers have more questions about the character and the actor’s gender. 

'Big Sky' Mark Lindor and Jerrie Kennedy looking at each other
‘Big Sky’: Omar Metwally and Jesse James Keitel | ABC/Michael Moriatis

Who plays Jerrie in ‘Big Sky’?

Jesse James Keitel plays Jerrie Kennedy, a transgender sex worker in Big Sky Season 1. They spent the first half of the season kidnapped by Ronald Pergman (Brian Geraghty) and Rick Legarski (John Carroll Lynch). However, their role changed in Big Sky Season 2 — Jerrie is a private investigator who works for the Dewell & Hoyt detective agency. The character also has a new love interest, which brought up many questions for fans.

According to IMDb, Jerrie on Big Sky portrayed a few other characters in television and film before joining the cast of the crime thriller. Viewers might recognize Keitel best for their role in Asher Jelinsky’s short film Miller & Son in 2019. They also had roles in the Ben Stiller-produced Netflix film Alex Strangelove and TV Land’s Younger. However, Keitel’s Big Sky role as Jerrie Kennedy made her the first nonbinary actor to play a nonbinary series regular on primetime television. To many, it is her breakout role in Hollywood.

‘Big Sky’: James Jesse Keitel opens up about what it means to identify as nonbinary

What does nonbinary mean? Many viewers of Big Sky asked Google that question after watching Jerrie Kennedy in the series. According to It Gets Better, an organization that aims to empower LGBTQ youth, the term nonbinary refers to a person whose “gender identity does not conform to the gender binary.” The gender binary is the “idea that only two distinct and opposite genders exist, male and female.”

“Some nonbinary people identify with more than one gender, while others don’t identify with any,” the organization states. “There are many ways to be nonbinary, and everyone’s experience with gender is different.”

While that might be confusing to some people, Keitel believes that viewers do not have to understand another person’s identity completely. 

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“The most I could hope for is that this leads to a small understanding that you don’t need to fully understand someone’s identity to respect that they also have a place in this world,” the actor explained to NBC News.

She added that her portrayal of Jerrie on Big Sky feels like a massive responsibility to portray the character in a real-life way.

[Spoiler alert: This section contains light spoilers from Big Sky Season 2 Episode 4 ‘Gettin’ Right to It.’]

Will Jerrie find love in ‘Big Sky’ Season 2?

In Big Sky Season 2 Episode 4, Jerrie Kennedy gave Mark Lindor (Omar Metwally) the cold shoulder when he arrived at the detective agency. She thought he was only there looking for Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury). However, when Mark and Jerrie set out to track down Ronald together, something happened between them. Viewers saw the sparks, and the scene ended with a kiss. In an interview with Digital Spy, Keitel teased her hopes and dreams for Jerrie in Big Sky.

“I want to see Jerrie find fulfilling romance, and that doesn’t necessarily mean a happy ending,” they told the outlet. “But I want to see her have romantic feelings that are reciprocated and respectful.”

Although Keitel is not a writer on the series, she explained that the producers appreciated her opinion on forming Jerrie Kennedy’s identity in Big Sky.

Jesse James Keitel and Omar Metwally walking in 'Big Sky' Season 2 Episode 4
‘Big Sky’ Season 2: Jesse James Keitel and Omar Metwally | ABC/Michael Moriatis

RELATED: ‘Big Sky’: Jesse James Keitel Teases Big Changes for Jerrie in Season 2

“Even before I was involved in the show, I think there was a lot of confusion over: is this character a cis woman?” she explained. “Is this character a gay man? Is this character a drag queen?”

Keitel felt validated with where the writers took the character of Jerrie in Big Sky after her input.

“Early in the process, I got to lend my opinion on who I believed the character to be,” she added. “Then the pandemic happened, and we revisited everything a few months later. I got to see my comments on what they wrote come into fruition.”

Hopefully, her opinions on where the character’s love life might go will also get worked into the series in the future. Big Sky airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.