TV Critic’s Corner

The Emmys and the nonbinary actor

Asia Kate Dillon in “Billions.”
Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME
Asia Kate Dillon in “Billions.”

At this moment, Emmy voters are picking their favorites for the year from June 1, 2016, to May 31, 2017. The nominees they choose will be announced on July 13, and then the winners will be announced on Sept. 17.

That all seems very straightforward, but there are interesting complications. This past season, “Billions” brought in a fascinating new character named Taylor Mason, played with beautiful innocence and brilliance by Asia Kate Dillon. Taylor is a nonbinary character who prefers the pronouns “they,” “them,” and “their,” which has given the macho-driven series a great twist. Turns out you don’t need to be a cocky dude in order to succeed on Wall Street. Dillon, who also appears on “Orange Is the New Black,” is also nonbinary.

So: The Emmys. Showtime decided to submit Dillon in a supporting category, but which one? At this point, the categories are divided into male and female, with no nonbinary option. The MTV Movie & TV Awards show has decided to present the best acting awards based on performance, with no gender specificity. (Dillon presented that award to Emma Watson earlier this year.) But the Emmys aren’t there. So Dillon had to choose.


“I reached out to the Academy,” Dillon told Variety, “and just asked them: What do these words mean to you? They said Academy rules have always stated that any performer can enter either category for any reason. They said, ‘But given where we are now, what would you like to do?’ And when given the choice between actor and actress, I used the word ‘actor,’ because it’s non-gendered and non-sexed.”

With “Game of Thrones” out of the running for this year’s Emmys, since the sixth season didn’t air during the eligibility period, it’s quite possible there will be room in the supporting actor category for Dillon. They certainly deserve a nod.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.