‘Actress’ vs. ‘Actor’ has always signified female vs. male categories when it comes to award shows. ‘Billions’ actor Asia Kate Dillon looks to bring awareness to non-gender conforming stars, and where their artistry fits in.
Asia Kate Dillon has been a force on television as the cunning and clever Taylor Mason in Showtime’s Billions, which just kicked off season 3, with Dillon as a series regular. The 33-year-old actor plays the first gender non-binary main character on North American television, which helped Asia realize their own non-conforming gender, as well. Like their character, Asia uses singular “they” pronouns, rather than identifying as either he or she, which became a hot topic surrounding a possible Emmy nomination. “I don’t feel that assigned sex, external sex characteristics or gender identity should be a prerequisite for the way in which we separate people to then judge and award their art,” Asia explained to HollywoodLife.com in an exclusive interview.
Asia approached the TV Academy, questioning the current, gendered system in place, which separates men and women by the words “actor” and “actress.” Asia researched the history of the words “actor” and “actress,” and found that “the word ‘actor’ is a non-gendered, non-sexed word dating back to Shakespearian time that just meant performer and was in reference to anyone, regardless of their assigned sex or gender identity.” They added, “the word ‘actress’ came into being to specifically refer to people who had been assigned female at birth, present with external female sex characteristics, and/or people who identify as women.” While the Academy didn’t adjust their categories, Asia says they did the “next best thing.” “They said, ‘According to our age-old rules, anyone can enter either category for any reason,’ and so I was able to say, ‘Actor. Supporting actor is the category I’d like to be entered under.’”
While we’ve yet to hear if Asia will receive the supporting nom at the Emmys (we think they will!), they did earn a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, which was a first for the award show. Additionally, their efforts were successful in ending gender-segregated categories after the MTV Movie & TV Awards combined their categories, and Asia presented the Best Actor award at the May 2017 show.
You can catch Asia, playing their trailblazing character Taylor in season 3 of Billions on Showtime, Sundays at 10 PM ET!