Asia Kate Dillon calls for awards to end gender specific acting categories

Gregory Wakeman
Cast member Asia Kate Dillon arrives for a screening of the movie "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum" in Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Orange Is The New Black and Billions star Asia Kate Dillon has called for award shows to remove gender specific acting categories, starting with the Screen Actors Guild. 

Dillon was the first nonbinary performer to play a nonbinary character in mainstream TV history when they did so opposite Damien Lewis in Billions

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Writing for Variety, Dillon argued that acting performances shouldn’t be judged on a person’s gender, while also insisting that by having male and female categories they are excluding non-binary performers. 

“Separating people based on their assigned sex, and/or their gender identity, is not only irrelevant when it comes to how an acting performance should be judged, it is also a form of discrimination,” Dillon wrote in the essay. 

Damien Lewis and Asia Kate Dillon in Billons (Image by Showtime)

“Not only do your current categories erase non-binary identities by limiting performers to identifying as male or female / man or womxn ( which not all SAG members, like myself, do), they also serve as an endorsement of the gender binary at large, which actively upholds other forms of discrimination, including racism, the patriarchy, and gender violence.”

Gender-neutral categories have already been implemented at the MTV Movie & TV Awards since 2017, when Beauty And The Beast’s Emma Watson beat out Hugh Jackman, Daniel Kaluuya, James McAvoy Taraji P Henson, and Hailee Steinfeld to pick up the Best Performance award. 

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Since then Chadwick Boseman and Lady Gaga have won the prize for their performances in Black Panther and A Star Is Born, respectively. 

Dillon addressed the piece directly to SAG-AFRTA’s SAG Awards committee members JoBeth Williams, Daryl Anderson, Jason George, Elizabeth McLaughlin and Woody Schultz, while they ended by saying that they would be happy to act as a judge if they did combine categories.