June 22 update: Variety reported that the SAG Awards has declined Asia Kate Dillon’s request to remove gender-specific categories. In response, Dillon said they would decline to judge the event’s acting categories.
“Billions” star Asia Kate Dillon wrote an impassioned essay on Wednesday that called for the SAG Awards to abolish its gender-specific categories.
Dillon’s open letter, which was published by Variety, was addressed to SAG-AFRTA’s SAG Awards committee members JoBeth Williams, Daryl Anderson, Jason George, Elizabeth McLaughlin, and Woody Schultz in response to the organization informing them they had been selected to serve on the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Motion Picture Nominating Committee.
Dillon, who came out as non-binary in 2016 and has actively supported an end to award shows’ segregated acting categories, argued that the SAG Awards’ current categories are exclusionary to non-binary individuals and said acting performances should not be judged based on an individual’s gender.
“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 said in the essay. “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.”
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Dillon ended their essay by noting they would be happy to serve as a judge if the SAG Awards combines its acting awards into gender-neutral categories.
A SAG Awards spokesperson declined to comment on Dillon’s essay.
Dillon added that there was precedent for their request, as they presented the first gender-neutral acting award to Emma Watson at the MTV Movie & TV Awards in 2017.
The “Billions” star, who also appeared in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” and “Orange Is the New Black,” also noted in their essay that merely making additional award categories for actors from underrepresented backgrounds would be insufficient.
“In fact, Black, POC, indigenous, trans, and disabled womxn are still the most underrepresented groups at any awards show,” Dillon said in the essay. “And yet, if SAG, or the Academy, or the Emmys, or the Critics Choice Awards, decided to combat that underrepresentation by creating Best Black/POC/Indigenous actress in a leading/supporting role, that action would resoundingly read as what it was: racist and discriminatory.”