When auditioning last year to play wunderkind hedge-funder Taylor for the second season of Showtime’s “Billions,” Asia Kate Dillon knew that the character was non-binary.
Just like the 32-year-old performer, Taylor self-identifies as neither man nor woman — and uses the singular pronouns they and their instead of he or she.
“The gender identity of Taylor is one aspect that makes up the full person, just like it is for me,” said Dillon, who managed to steal scenes from Emmy-winning onscreen boss Damian Lewis. The biggest challenges of the role, Dillon said, had nothing to do with gender: “I spent more time preparing for the areas in which Taylor has genius that I don’t have — mathematics, stocks.”
Still, Taylor’s non-binary identity – and quick rise — raise eyebrows at the fictional Axe Capital on the show.
“You have this hyper-masculine world in which we’ve been told that you have to be that way in order to be successful,” said Dillon, who makes an equally striking impression as a white supremacist inmate on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.” “And Taylor just goes to show you don’t have to be.”
Dillon also forged a new path when Showtime announced it wanted to mount an Emmy campaign.
After consulting with the TV Academy, the performer decided to submit in the featured actor category instead of featured actress.
“It’s always been a question in my mind: Why do we have those two categories?” Dillon said. “Since actor is a non-gendered, non-sexed word dating from the late 1500s, and it is a word that I use when given the choice … that’s what I went for.”
At the end of the day, though, Dillon explained, “I don’t believe my sex should have anything to do with whether or not I’m nominated or whether I win.”
Watch the video above.