"Since I can remember, I have enjoyed performing," Jackson Millaker tells PEOPLE

By Brittany King
September 28, 2016 05:40 PM

On Wednesday, Jackson Millarker will break new ground by guest starring on Modern Family which will make him the first openly transgender child actor to appear on television.

Before his episode airs, Millarker and his parents are opening up to PEOPLE about his journey to the small screen.

Here are five things to know about the 8-year-old actor.

1. Why did he pick Modern Family to make his big TV debut?
“When we explained the role to him, he was very excited about the opportunity to portray a character that is so similar to himself,” moms Stacey and Jen tell PEOPLE. “Jackson has been a young activist in our community and he knew that Modern Family would portray the role of a transgender child in a positive light.”

2. Millarker transitioned at 6 years old.
“We followed Jackson’s lead from a very early age and supported him in every aspect of his transition,” his parents share. “He is very wise beyond his years and was able to communicate open and honestly about his feelings and what he was experiencing. He was always a very gender-neutral child, but at the age of 4 he started experiencing intense anxiety in his daily life.”

“As his parents, we pulled together resources and support to help us through the earliest stages of his transition, while at the same time continuing to give him the freedom to express himself however he felt comfortable,” they add. “At the age of 6, he came to us with the request to use male pronouns at home. He quickly decided that he wanted to use male pronouns exclusively, because he realized that he was in fact transgender. He entered second grade as his true self, a boy. His family, friends, and school have been very supportive from the beginning. He is now a confident, happy, healthy young man.”

3. Eric Stonestreet and the Modern Family cast made his time on set a blast!
“Aubrey Anderson-Emmons [who plays Lily] and I were near her room on the set, and the two dads were walking around the corner,” Jackson tells PEOPLE. “When Eric Stonestreet walked around the corner, he stuck his tongue out at me!”

The fun didn’t end there, recalls the young actor: “My favorite moment was when I got to play the game with Aubrey! We got to do it over and over again,” he says. “It was really fun! I felt welcomed from the very beginning! In the first five minutes of meeting the cast, I was already laughing.”

4. He loves frogs!
“Since I can remember, I have enjoyed performing,” he reveals. “I have always performed plays at home for my family. When I was 6, my parents finally signed me up for a theater class! I joined a musical theater troop and I was Baloo in the Jungle Book. I love being on stage and making people laugh and smile. I also absolutely love frogs!”

5. He wants to give fellow young actors and actresses a very special message.
“Be yourself!” he encourages. “Remember that you are loved and that you, too, are special!”

Modern Family‘s “A Stereotypical Day” airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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