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Bella Ramsey Scores Bittersweet First Emmy Nomination in Gendered Category

After treating viewers to a harrowing narrative with a queer lead, a gay love story that had everyone in tears, and becoming one of the most-watched shows on TV in the process, The Last of Us has scored a whopping 24 Emmy nominations. That includes the series’ nonbinary star, Bella Ramsey, who has been nominated for outstanding lead ‘actress’ in a drama series despite having recently spoken out about their discomfort with gendered award categories.

The nomination, which is their first, is ultimately a cause for joy, and Ramsey celebrated with a statement thanking the cast and crew who made it possible.

“I’m so happy for the entire team and immensely proud of this show and everyone involved,” they said. “I’m especially proud of my friend Keivonn Woodard (his first job and first nomination), my brain soulmate Craig Mazin, and my rock and the best sidekick ever…Pedro Pascal.

“It was the best year of my life shooting The Last of Us, so to be given this recognition alongside other phenomenal performers makes my little heart feel very big, thank you.”

At the same time, Ramsey’s nomination has reopened the conversation on gendered categories. In an interview with Variety, series creator ​​Craig Mazin explained that he’d discussed the topic with Ramsey beforehand and went on to describe the challenges with non-gendered categories.

“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 hand, we have to practically make sure that by moving away from gendered categories, we don’t shortchange traditionally overlooked folks … and we know that in non-gendered categories like directing and writing, women have been historically under-appreciated.

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

This propensity to overlook marginalized creatives in non-gendered categories was demonstrated earlier this year at the Academy Awards, with only men receiving the Best Director nomination.

Speaking to Vanity Fair in May, Ramsey offered their own thoughts on gendered categories. “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.”

But, they pointed out, moving forward means involving gender non-conforming people in the solution. “For [nonbinary and nonconforming people] to have a say and be part of those discussions and those conversations, that’s really important,” they said. “I just hope there’s more space for nonbinary people to be recognized within [future] categories.”

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