'Anne With an E' Star Cory Gruter-Andrew Talks 'Responsibility' of LGBT Role

Anne With An E's Cory Gruter-Andrew said he felt a "sense of nervous responsibility" as his character debuted on the Netflix series in early July.

The young actor was introduced during the Anne of Green Gables adaptation's second season as Cole Mackenzie, a quiet — yet warm — aspiring artist, who the titular character befriends despite his insistence on being alone.

When fans first meet Cole, they encounter a young and observant boy who is on the road to finding himself. At first glance, Cole seems standoffish — hardened by the constant harassment he receives from other kids at school, and even his teacher Mr. Phillips — but with the help of Anne (Amybeth McNulty), he slowly begins to flourish both as an artist, and as a young member of the LGBT community.

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(Photo: Netflix)

Playing an LGBT character in the family-friendly series presented a special opportunity for 16-year-old Gruter-Andrew who, as he shared exclusively with PopCulture.com, felt honored to play a role that could inspire others to be themselves.

"I felt a wonderful sense of nervous responsibility in playing this character as it felt like it may connect with some stories that people watching might experience themselves in some way," Gruter-Andrew told PopCulture.com via email. "It's been really great to see people saying they relate to Cole in such a way that it lifts their spirits."

As the season progresses, Cole goes from an injury that sees his future as an artist in jeopardy, to the young friend of Anne's learning to love himself despite adversity and finding the motivation to look for his place in the world, a challenge many young members of the LGBT community can relate with.

"To prepare for the role I really just imagined who Cole was and who he wants to be in the future, what it might be like to have these types of struggles and feel like an outsider," Gruter-Andrew said. "...the response to the character of Cole has been so terrific."

Playing an LGBT character in a show for young audiences is especially prevalent in the modern age, when young people may turn to television and movies to help guide them through the difficult waters of growing up. Gruter-Andrew's Cole presents a storyline that many viewers will find relatable, as well as uplifting.

"I want people to understand that it's okay to be who you are, no matter what you look like, act like, or feel like," Gruter-Andrew said. "And that you should express yourself in whatever way YOU see fit."

Cole's season 2 arc comes to an end when he decides to stay in Charlottesville with Aunt Josephine (Deborah Grover) in hopes of finding where he belongs. Though it remains to be seen if he will return for the series' possible third season, Gruter-Andrew said he "hopes" to return to the show in the future.

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Both seasons of Anne with an E are currently available to stream on Netflix.