You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Asia Kate Dillon on ‘Billions,’ Acting and Non-Binary Choices

Asia Kate Dillon has already walked into TV history as Taylor Mason, the razor-sharp intern for hedge-fund wiz Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) on “Billions.” Taylor is the first major non-binary role on American series TV, and Dillon — a non-binary actor who likewise prefers “they”/“theirs” pronouns — sees it as a landmark. Viewers will be seeing a lot more of them, too: Showtime has promoted the character to series regular for season three.

Dillon: Taylor was always a non-binary character, even before they auditioned or cast any actor to play the part. I was given basic, broad-stroke information on the character in the casting breakdown. A few descriptive words and who they were: An intern at Axe Capital. So I made some choices, and I went into my initial audition with the casting director, Allison Estrin. Allison gave me some very helpful insight and some feedback into where the creators were hoping to take Taylor.

When I got the script for this second episode, I saw that Taylor walks into Bobby’s office and says, “These are my pronouns,” and Bobby says “OK,” and then they get right down to business, and then they have that amazing conversation on the balcony where Bobby says, “You know, the difference in you is actually your advantage.” This scene in particular, I think, really solidified for me that Taylor was going to be a well-rounded, fully fleshed-out character, which ultimately was important to me when considering the role.

I really couldn’t ask for better scene partners than the ones I’m working with. Damian Lewis is a consummate professional. He is kind. He’s compassionate. He’s able to engage in real conversation when we’re not rolling, and then the minute we’re rolling, he’s totally present and reacting truthfully in the moment and listening.

Every take is a little bit different. I just felt like that scene was able to come alive because I was working with Damian. I’m only as good as my scene partner will allow me to be, and he is extraordinarily gracious.

There are a couple of things we’re seeing with Taylor’s journey on the show. Taylor is able to be the most successful person other than Bobby at Axe Capital, simply by doing their job and making money. Taylor doesn’t have to be hyper-masculine or competitive in the same way that the other people who work at Axe Capital are, or have felt they needed to be in order to be successful.

I feel a lot of pride for the fact that this script was coming to me, and it had been written by two self-identified cisgendered, straight, white men [executive producers Brian Koppelman and David Levien wrote the first episode introducing Taylor].

When Showtime said they wanted to submit me for an Emmy nomination, I found myself in the unique position, as a non-binary performer, of actually wanting to know more before I could make that decision.

I reached out to the Academy and just asked them: What do these words mean to you? They said Academy rules have always stated that any performer can enter either category for any reason. They said, “But given where we are now, what would you like to do?” And when given the choice between actor and actress, I used the word “actor,” because it’s not non-gendered and non-sexed.

More TV

  • Big Bang Theory

    'Big Bang Theory,' 'Manifest' Among Top Live+7 Gainers of 2018-2019 Season

    With 2018-2019 broadcast season wrapping up, certain shows stand head and shoulders above their competition in the Nielsen Live+7 rankings. Live+7 data is currently available only through May 5, but the top dogs will likely see little change once the final numbers are in for the traditional September-May season. The top gainer in adults 18-49 was [...]

  • Anna Kendrick Paul Feig

    Anna Kendrick, Paul Feig Team for Comedy Anthology Series at WarnerMedia Streaming Service

    Anna Kendrick and Paul Feig are coming to the WarnerMedia streaming service Variety has learned that the upcoming streamer has ordered the romantic comedy anthology series “Love Life,” the first season of which will star Kendrick with Feig executive producing. WarnerMedia has ordered a 10-episode first season of the half-hour series. The series will follow [...]

  • Jon Feltheimer

    Lionsgate Posts Loss, Underperforms Wall Street Expectations

    Lionsgate has posted a quarterly loss and its revenues and operating income have come in under Wall Street projections, despite growth from its premium cable channel, Starz. The studio reported a net loss of $24 million, or 11 cents a share, with adjusted operating income of $103 million for its fourth fiscal quarter ended March [...]

  • ‘Gentleman Jack’ Gets Season 2 at

    ‘Gentleman Jack’ Renewed for Season 2 at BBC, HBO

    “Gentleman Jack” will return to TV screens on both sides of the Atlantic after the BBC and HBO ordered a second season of the period drama. The series is based on a true story and stars Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, a lesbian, and the proprietor of her family’s coal mines. She has to walk [...]

  • Jane Austin SAG AFTRA

    SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer Jane Austin Running for President

    Jane Austin, the National Secretary-Treasurer of SAG-AFTRA, has become the third candidate for the presidency of the performers union, joining incumbent Gabrielle Carteris and Matthew Modine. Austin is running as an independent for the top post at SAG-AFTRA, which has 160,000 members. Carteris will seek re-election as the head of the ticket for the Unite [...]

  • Vida

    Why Too Much TV Can Be a Good Thing (Column)

    Three episodes into the second season of “Vida,” there’s a wedding so gloriously and specifically queer that I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. After watching countless couples walk down the aisle onscreen before, Starz’s “Vida” takes care to show a ceremony quite unlike any other, featuring drag queens, a pair of Latinx grooms in bedazzled [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content