“...actor is a non-gendered word that I use.”
April 6, 2017 4:15 PM   Subscribe

Billions star Asia Kate Dillon doesn’t fit traditional awards categories. [The Toronto Star] “Fans of the series Billions [wiki] have spent much of the second season enamored of the relatively unknown Asia Kate Dillon, who portrays a gender non-binary character named Taylor Mason. Dillon’s breakout performance has arguably surpassed those of the show’s established stars, Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis and Maggie Siff. In fact, it so impressed Showtime that the U.S. network planned to submit Dillon’s performance to this year’s Emmy Awards. There was only one issue. Much like the Mason character, Dillon identifies as gender non-binary and uses the pronoun “they.” The Emmy Awards, meanwhile, only have two categories for best supporting performance: actor and actress. The network asked Dillon which category Dillon would rather be submitted to.”
posted by Fizz (14 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I love Taylor Mason, and I think Billions has done a good job of avoiding a lot of traps you'd expect them to fall into with such a character. Finding out that Taylor Mason directly represents important aspects of Asia Kate Dillon, however that came about, feels like a bonus and is pleasing on a lot of levels.
posted by fatbird at 4:38 PM on April 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I suppose that had to happen sometime. Good response on the organization's part.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:39 PM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

How about just getting rid of the gender distinction, altogether? What purpose does it really serve? For example, it's not as though there are categories for male and female writers and directors. Why the emphasis on the sexual identity of the role-players?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:48 PM on April 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

The article omits that Kelly Mantle was recently nominated for both gendered supporting actor/actress categories at the Oscars. As a stopgap measure for moving away from gendered awards, dual nominations seems like a welcome interim approach.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 6:04 PM on April 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

What purpose does it really serve? For example, it's not as though there are categories for male and female writers and directors.

More than 125 Emmys have been awarded for directing a dramatic or comedy series. Seven of them have gone to women (four of those were in the last four years, but only seven of the 24 nominees in that span were women). It's better in writing, with around 25 women out of the more than 200 winners. There is little evidence to suggest that the numbers would be any better if women competed against men in the acting categories.
posted by Etrigan at 6:17 PM on April 6, 2017 [18 favorites]

While it's cool that the Oscars allowed the same person to be considered for both supporting actor/actress categories, Kelly Mantle was in fact nominated for neither.
posted by thecjm at 6:33 PM on April 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

In 1983, Linda Hunt won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of male character Billy Kwan, against Cher (Silkwood), Glenn Close (The Big Chill), Amy Irving (Yentl), and Alfre Woodard (Cross Creek).
Should she have competed against Jack Nicholson (winner, Terms of Endearment), John Lithgow (Terms of Endearment), Charles Durning (To Be or Not to Be), Sam Shephard (The Right Stuff), and Rip Torn (Cross Creek)?
It's... hard to say.
posted by TrishaU at 6:59 PM on April 6, 2017

There's a really huge difference between a nonbinary actor and someone pretending to be a different gender for a film, Trisha.
posted by flatluigi at 7:31 PM on April 6, 2017 [20 favorites]

I love this storyline in Billions. It's honestly the only thing that's humanized Axelrod to me, and the series relies on glimpses of humanity from the two leads to not descend (further) into farce.
posted by supercres at 8:22 PM on April 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm sad to see the Asia Kate Dillon's IMDB uses the word "actress", but maybe this was written some time ago.

I've only seen them in Orange is the New Black as one of the white supremacist characters, but I enjoyed their performance very much.
posted by obtuser at 6:58 AM on April 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Taylor is mentioned in the latest Grammar Girl podcast (script here), which is about the singular gender-neutral they (which AP and Chicago recently changed their outlooks on).
posted by Etrigan at 7:19 AM on April 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

"female nonbinary" aaarrggghhhhh godd so gratifying to see nb randos further muddying the waters. i mean good on them! but i am a small bit tired of newjack trans people being put in a position to explain things in news articles bc then you got people saying kind of dumb crap because they are just figuring themselves out. I mean "I am grateful for this representation".
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 9:26 AM on April 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

MTV Awards Eliminates Gender Categories And Barriers Between Film And TV: "In an interview Wednesday, MTV president Chris McCarthy, who also oversees VH1 and Logo, told Vulture the decision to tear down the old walls was simply a reflection of how the music-focused channel’s under-25 target audience views content (and each other). “This audience actually doesn’t see male-female dividing lines, so we said, ‘Let’s take that down.’ They don’t see lines between theatrical releases and television— they just see it as great content — so let’s take that down.”
posted by Pendragon at 11:27 AM on April 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

casting calls are always capital-hashtag #Problematic but "female" and "nonbinary" are not entirely mutually exclusive terms, depending on how you view things.


I can't speak authoritatively on this, but afaik the gendered award categories come out of the structure of 1940's studio-era Hollywood when a) as a rule, films had a male lead and a female lead, and b) they played fundamentally different types of roles, so that comparing them would be apples to oranges.

It's not ... precisely ... because female roles were less valuable ... I mean, financially speaking they were considered very valuable. The leading ladies could negotiate wages that matched or exceeded their male colleagues. And it's not because there were fewer high-status female roles, because there weren't, it was about equal, because (they thought) every movie had to have a male and female lead in order to succeed.

It's purely and simply because their cultural lens said there were two distinct types of roles for an actor to play. Or, to put it another way, that male and female actors had noticeably different jobs. (while all directors had the same job.) And their cultural lens conflated that with the sex and gender of the actor in question.

Nowadays our understanding of gender is very different, and the structure of the industry is very different too. And now it is true that there are fewer high-status roles for female actors. And all the female actors I know say "female actor" instead of actress. Idunno.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 1:49 PM on April 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

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