“What do the words ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ mean to you regarding the awards?” “Billions” star Asia Kate Dillon recalled asking the Television Academy when they were deciding whether to submit under supporting actor or supporting actress for this year’s Emmy Awards.
Dillon, who identifies as gender non-binary (using the pronouns they, their, and them) and plays a non-binary character on the hit Showtime drama, eventually chose to submit in the supporting actor category after learning from the Television Academy that “any performer can enter either category for any reason.” Dillon, who plays Taylor Mason, a financial genius who becomes a potent weapon for Damian Lewis’ hedge fund king Bobby Axelrod, also mentioned a definition they learned for the term “actor,” which, in the late 1500s was often referenced as a non-gender and non-sex word.
“I’ve been aware of binaries in awards systems since I’ve been aware of awards ceremonies,” Dillon said at Friday’s “Billions” panel held at NYIT Auditorium on Broadway in New York. Also on hand for the event were stars Paul Giamatti, Maggie Siff, Toby Leonard Moore, David Costabile and co-creators and executive producers Brian Koppelman and David Levien.
“It’s not the first time I’ve thought about this, but it was certainly the first time where I felt like I had a unique opportunity and a platform to engage in the conversation about questions that I had,” Dillon continued.
However, Dillon also wanted to note that they had no qualms with performers who do identify as “actresses.” “Many people who identify as women use the term ‘actress’ to denote their gender identity specifically. I think that’s fine,” Dillon said. “There’s room for people to use the word ‘actress’ if they want.”
The “Billions” breakout also touched on Taylor’s transition from fish-out-of-water intern to icy boss over the course of the show’s second season.
“One of the things that’s so fun about playing Taylor and seeing their journey unfold in full is what happens when you inject a person who is not hypermasculine into a hypermasculinized world, in which you assume you have to be hypermasculine in order to succeed,” Dillon said. “Taylor is always coming up against what it means to maintain their strong ethical and moral center but also do this job that they are very good at and they love.”
The second season finale of “Billions” airs Sunday.