'One of Us Is Lying' Star Jess McLeod Talks Janae's Gender Identity Exploration (Exclusive)

As Peacock's One of Us Is Lying enters its second season, Jess McLeod admits exploring Janae's conflicted feelings about their gender identity was "harder than [they] expected." McLeod, who uses they/them pronouns, opened up to PopCulture.com ahead of Thursday's Season 2 premiere of One of Us Is Lying, reflecting on the "personally revealing" aspect of Janae's character.  

In Episode 3 of Season 2, "Simon Says Let's Get Personal," Janae shares with Addy that they've been thinking a lot about their own complicated feelings towards their gender, telling her, "Sometimes I wish that gender didn't exist." Exploring that aspect of Janae was "really fun," McLeod told PopCulture. "I will also say, it was harder than I expected it to be, just because it is so close to me."

"I think that I kinda, like, went into it being like, 'Oh, whatever.' You know? Like, 'It's fine.'" they continued. "But I think that there's an interesting challenge as an actor when you're playing a role for so long that it does start to feel, at least for me, quite personally revealing. So I think it was interesting to navigate that this season." In the end, The Unforgivable actor is "glad" that they were able to be true to Janae and hopes their story will resonate with viewers who are "queer and questioning gender."

Showrunner Erica Saleh told PopCulture it was "really fun" getting to know Janae better and "digging deeper" into their character this season. "Janae is exploring their gender identity this season, which was I think a great and important story to tell," she shared. Janae's personal journey is accompanied by the threat of exposure as Simon Says threatens to expose the Murder Club's involvement in Jake's death this season – and it's wearing on our protagonists.  

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"They kind of have a few things really bearing down on them," Saleh explained. "They have the guilt and fear over what [they] did on Halloween, and then this added fear of someone knows and having no idea what that's going to mean. What is this person going to want from them? How dangerous is this person? So there's a lot of pressure." One of Us Is Lying Season 2 is streaming now on Peacock.