The Emmy Awards are allowing a non-binary actor to choose which category they will be nominated in.
Asia Kate Dillon is best known for appearing as Taylor on Showtime’s Billions and for playing non-binary inmate Brandy on Orange is the New Black.
Dillon identifies as non-binary and use they/them pronouns – and they have just outed the Emmy Awards as possibly the most progressive event of awards season.
When Showtime asked them how they wanted their work submitted for Emmy consideration, Dillon was unable to answer the question.
So they wrote a passionate letter to the Television Academy, challenging the gender-specific acting categories.
‘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,’ they said.
‘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 Academy quickly replied. Dillon describes it as a thoughtful exchange, and said the Academy were ‘100% supportive’.
At the end of it, there was a surprise: there was never any rule as to who can submit into which category.
‘Anyone can submit under either category for any reason,’ Dillon told Variety.
‘The Academy supports anyone’s choice to do that, and the Academy is not going to do any sort of check.’
The official Emmy rules do not specify hopefuls’ gender as a qualifying mark for the acting categories.
‘The Television Academy celebrates inclusiveness, and as we discussed with Asia, there is no gender requirement for the various performer categories,’ the Academy said.
‘Asia is free to choose the category they wish to enter.’
In the end, Dillon decided to enter as supporting actor – because, unlike actress, it is a non-gendered word.