Dan Doperalski for Variety
A key ‘Yellowjackets’ cast member opted out of Emmy season.
Non-binary actor Liv Hewson, who plays scarred teenage goalie Van Palmer in Showtime’s hit drama, will not submit to this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards despite being eligible in major acting races . Hewson, 27, says Variety exclusively, they made the decision due to the Television Academy’s separation of the acting categories into male and female.
Read: Variety Awards Circuit for the latest Emmy predictions.
“There’s no place for me in the acting categories,” Hewson says. “It would be inaccurate for me to introduce myself as an actress. It makes no sense to me to be lumped together with the boys. It’s quite simple and not so loaded. I cannot submit to this because there is no place for me.
Part of the “Yellowjackets” ensemble, which includes Melanie Lynskey and Christina Ricci — both Emmy nominees last year — Hewson was a highlight of the second season. While Hewson is a long shot for Emmy acting recognition, Season 2 shows Van walking a thin line between his love for his girlfriend and costar Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and his growing fear of the evil that may reside within Tai. .
Variety exclusively revealed Showtime’s plans for acting submissions on March 30, where Hewson was named among the contenders for supporting drama actresses. Since then, in a meeting with Showtime and other crew members, they shared the decision not to submit.
LGBTQ activists and allies have advocated for gender-neutral acting categories at major awards shows like the Oscars and Golden Globes. In 2017, “Billions” star Asia Kate Dillon, the first non-binary performer to play a non-binary character on a major TV show, asked the TV Academy to clarify her gender classifications. Other actors who identify as non-binary also weighed in, like Emma D’Arcy, who applied for the lead drama actress for “House of the Dragon” this year, and Carl Clemons-Hopkins, the first non-binary actor. binary recognized for supporting the comedic actor (for “Hacks” in 2021). Progress has been made recently: the Gotham Awards have chosen in 2021 to no longer define their categories by gender. The Independent Spirit Awards followed suit a year later. Even the Grammys have been completely neutral for a decade.
At the same time, inclusion advocates worry that if gender-neutral categories become the norm, cisgender white men will be the main beneficiaries, undoing gains made since #OscarsSoWhite in 2016. Hewson won’t give in to those worries, saying, “There’s an implicit fatalism there, which suggests that we’ve all agreed that equality is impossible. And it’s sad.
“We are not going to start awarding the best female and male director, or the female or male cinematographer,” they continue. “Because we all understand that would be implicitly insulting. You can keep things as they are right now – I just won’t participate.
The dilemma puts non-binary actors in a situation where they have to make an uncomfortable choice. Hewson made their own, while J. Harrison Ghee, a non-binary actor from Fox’s anthology crime series “Accused,” will run for lead actor in a limited series Emmy consideration. Meanwhile, they’ll be up for a Tony nominee for lead actor (musical) for the cover of “Some Like It Hot.”
“It’s not a gendered profession for me, and I was grateful to have been asked to reflect on where I wanted to be seen,” says Ghee. “Making this decision was not hard on my mind. It was just to be confident and intentional in my work and meet the moment.
As for Hewson, Showtime and their fellow cast members have been “incredibly supportive” of their decision, they say — especially after he underwent surgery before filming the second season. Hewson wants their position to be meaningful and for Hollywood to continue discussing the complexity of these issues.
“It’s worth talking about,” Hewson said. “And I very kindly and respectfully ask that people turn their gears around a bit.”