“The Last of Us” creator weighs in on nonbinary star Bella Ramsey’s best actress Emmy nomination

Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us
Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us Photo: Liane Hentscher/HBO

At first glance, Bella Ramsey’s Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for their role as queer teen Ellie in HBO’s post-apocalyptic hit The Last of Us is cause for celebration. At the same time, however, it’s complicated.

This year’s Emmy nominations, of course, were overshadowed by the Screen Actors Guild strike, which began on Thursday, a day after the nominations were announced. But Ramsey’s nomination was further complicated in light of statements the nonbinary actor has made expressing discomfort with gendered awards show categories.

While Ramsey has yet to comment on their nomination, The Last of Us co-creator and showrunner Craig Mazin has weighed in on the issue. In an interview with Variety published on Wednesday following the Emmys announcement, Mazin was asked for his take on how the awards show handles nominating nonbinary performers.

Mazin said that he had spoken to Ramsey about the issue. “It’s a really interesting challenge,” he said. “On the one hand, the conversation about gender has transformed dramatically and in a very progressive and positive way. On the other, we have to practically make sure that by moving away from gendered categories, we don’t short-change traditionally overlooked folks… and we know that in non-gendered categories like directing and writing, women have been historically under-appreciated.”

His comments echo concerns voiced by many high-profile cisgender actresses when it comes to moving towards gender-neutral performance categories.

“I don’t know the answer,” Mazin added, “but I have every expectation that nonbinary performers will soon be recognized in the respectful and appropriate way they deserve.”

Ramsey is one of a growing chorus of nonbinary performers who have argued that the current status quo forces out nonbinary actors to choose between submitting themselves for awards consideration in categories that don’t reflect their gender identity or taking themselves out of the running altogether.

In May, Ramsey told Vanity Fair that despite submitting themself for Emmys consideration in the “Best Actress” category, they remain “uncomfortable” with the idea of gendered awards.

“I don’t want the limitations in terms of the language in the categories to be a reason that nonbinary actors like me can’t be celebrated,” they said. “And it can open up a conversation about how it feels—as long as I’m aware of the fact that it’s not ideal, but also that finding alternatives is really complex.”

“For [nonbinary and nonconforming people] to have a say and be part of those discussions and those conversations, that’s really important,” Ramsey continued. “I just hope there’s more space for nonbinary people to be recognized within [future] categories.”

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Peruvian actor comes out live on popular Mexican TV show

Previous article

Job applicant got a conditional offer until they found out he was trans

Next article