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about how important this role was at the time. Considering the amount of lesbian characters on TV today, it might be hard to understand the significance of this role, but let's look back at the TV landscape in 1999. Setting aside the coming out of Ellen DeGeneres, the LGBT community was represented primarily by gay men, who were either the brunt of jokes or were killed off for drama. (Always of AIDS, or out of fear of being 'outed'.) A gay character was always a guest star, never in the opening credits, and physical displays of affection were out of the question. Jorja Fox was on 'ER' for 33 episodes from 1996-1999 and her sexuality was only ever brought to the fore in one episode. When Ellen Degeneres came out in real life and on her show 'Ellen' in April 1997, the dearth of lesbian characters was such that 42 million people watched that coming out episode, because it was so daring.

So imagine what it was like to have your name in the opening credits, be a focal point of a love story, and actually kiss another woman? For comparison's sake, Mandana played Nikki Wade the exact same number of episodes Jorja Fox played Maggie Doyle, and the contrasts are staggering. Seeing representation in the form of a strong yet flawed heroine like Nikki Wade was a revelation. She was all too human, and the writers treated her as such. More importantly, Mandana treated the role as honestly as possible. When asked how she approached kissing a woman, she dismissed it as no different than kissing man. "You sort of look at their face and imagine what part you'd love to kiss and why; you find some part of that person to fall in love with, really." It seems so obvious now, but we really did need someone to say, "I can only come to it from my truth, which is: it's love, it's universal."

Some of our favourites
The Eye Roll
S1Ep1- Them and Us

Our introduction to Nikki. The eyeroll says it all.

Charming
S1E3- Love Rival

"You really know how to talk to a woman, don't you, Fenner?"

Hiring Firing
S1Ep6- A Big Mistake

Helen: And what did that entail?
Nikki: Hiring. Firing.

Charming
S1E7- Playing with Fire

Nikki admires her new cell. We admire Nikki's tank top.

Wanna bet
S3E3- The Chains of Freedom

Nikki's friendship with Yvonne (Linda Henry) was always a favourite.

Matchmaker Nikki
S3E3- The Chains of Freedom

Nikki promises to hook up Yvonne with a shag on the side. "Very nice. Very sexy."

Swagger
S3E5- Blood Ties

Sometimes, it's just about the swagger.

Freedom
S3E16- Coming Out

Nikki gets the ending she deserves.

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