Asia Kate Dillon didn't know if they should be submitted for the 'actor' or 'actress' Emmy Award category

By Gabrielle Olya
April 06, 2017 05:53 PM
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Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

Asia Kate Dillon made history as TV’s first gender non-binary character Taylor Mason on Showtime’s Billions, and now Dillon is making history again by challenging the Television Academy’s division of Emmy Awards by male and female acting categories.

According to Variety, Showtime wanted to nominate Dillon — who identifies as gender non-binary in real life too and prefers the pronouns “they” and “them” — for an Emmy Award, but didn’t know what category to submit them for. When asked what category they preferred, Dillon was unsure, so they wrote a letter to the Academy asking for some more insight.

“I’d like to know if in your eyes ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ denote anatomy or identity and why it is necessary to denote either in the first place?” Dillon wrote in the letter, obtained by Variety. “The reason I’m hoping to engage you in a conversation about this is because if the categories of ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ are in fact supposed to represent ‘best performance by a person who identifies as a woman’ and ‘best performance by a person who identifies as a man’ then there is no room for my identity within that award system binary.”

“Furthermore, if the categories of ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ are meant to denote assigned sex I ask, respectfully, why is that necessary?,” the letter continued.

The Academy wrote back stating that anyone is able to submit for either category.

“I found them to be 100 percent supportive,” Dillon told Variety. “I really couldn’t have been happier.”

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Dillon ultimately decided to be submitted for the “actor” category because the term isn’t necessarily gender-specific.

“Given the choice between actor and actress, actor is a non-gendered word that I use,” Dillon said. “That’s why I chose actor.”

“I think this is a really good place to start a larger conversation about the categories themselves, and what changes are possible and what may or may not be coming,” they continued. “I’m excited to see what other people think, and what they want to say once they become aware of this.”