‘Yellowjackets’ Nonbinary Actor Liv Hewson Won’t Submit for Emmys

A key player on “Yellowjackets” has opted to sit out Emmy season.

Nonbinary actor Liv Hewson, who plays the scarred teenage goalkeeper Van Palmer on Showtime’s hit drama, won’t be submitting themselves for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards despite being eligible in the main acting races. Hewson, 27, tells Variety exclusively they made the decision because of the Television Academy’s separation of acting categories into male and female.

Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Emmy predictions.

“There’s not a place for me in the acting categories,” Hewson says. “It would be inaccurate for me to submit myself as an actress. It neither makes sense for me to be lumped in with the boys. It’s quite straightforward and not that loaded. I can’t submit myself for this because there’s no space for me.”

An integral part of the “Yellowjackets” ensemble, which includes Melanie Lynskey and Christina Ricci — both Emmy nominees last year — Hewson has been a highlight of the sophomore season. While Hewson is a considerable long shot for Emmy acting recognition, Season 2 shows Van toeing a thin line between her love for girlfriend and teammate Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and her growing fear of the evil that may lie within Tai.

Variety exclusively revealed on March 30 Showtime’s plans for acting submissions, where Hewson was named among the supporting drama actress contenders. Since then, in a meeting with Showtime and other team members, they shared the decision not to submit themselves.

LGBTQ activists and allies have advocated for gender-neutral acting categories at major awards ceremonies like the Oscars and the Golden Globes. In 2017, “Billions” star Asia Kate Dillon, the first nonbinary performer to play a nonbinary character on a major TV show, asked the TV Academy to clarify its gender classifications. Other actors who identify as nonbinary also have weighed in, such as Emma D’Arcy, who submitted for lead drama actress for “House of the Dragon” this year, and Carl Clemons-Hopkins, the first nonbinary actor recognized for supporting comedy actor (for “Hacks” in 2021). Progress has been made recently: The Gotham Awards opted in 2021 to stop defining its categories by gender. The Independent Spirit Awards followed suit a year later. Even the Grammys have been completely gender-neutral for a decade.

At the same time, inclusion advocates fear that if nongendered categories become the norm, cisgender white men will be the biggest beneficiaries, rolling back the gains made since #OscarsSoWhite in 2016. Hewson won’t concede to those worries, saying: “There is an implied fatalism there, which suggests that we’ve all agreed that equality is impossible. And that’s sad.”

“We’re not going to start awarding best female and male director, or female or male cinematographer,” they continue. “Because we all understand that implicitly would be insulting. You can keep things as they are right now — I just won’t be participating.”

J Harrison Ghee, nonbinary actor submitted themselves for Emmy consideration for Fox’s anthology series “Accused”

The dilemma puts nonbinary actors in a place where they must make an uncomfortable choice. Hewson has made theirs, whereas J. Harrison Ghee, a nonbinary actor on Fox’s anthology crime series “Accused,” will submit themselves for lead actor in a limited series Emmy consideration. Meanwhile, they will be vying for a Tony nom for lead actor (musical) for the revival of “Some Like It Hot.”

“It’s not a gendered profession to me, and I was grateful to be asked for consideration on where I wanted to be viewed,” says Ghee. “Making that decision wasn’t hard on my spirit. It was just to be confident and intentional about my work and meeting the moment.”

As for Hewson, Showtime and their fellow cast members have been “incredibly supportive” of their decision, they say — especially after they had top surgery before filming the second season. Hewson wants their stand to be meaningful and for Hollywood to continue discussing the complexities of these questions.

“It’s worth talking about,” Hewson says. “And I very gently and respectfully ask that people get their gears turning a little.”

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