Billions' star Asia Kate Dillon is Making it Better in Hollywood for Non-Binary Actors

Illustration by Britt Spencer

"If we were separating people by their eye color, certainly their skin color, the uproar would be quite quick and clear."

Rarely does someone get the chance to actually be living history. Billions' star Asia Kate Dillon, who plays Taylor, the first non-binary lead character on a TV series, is very much aware of their impact. "I'm always bringing my activism or my identity into the workplace," Dillon says of how they approach playing Taylor. The Showtime series, which returns for a fifth season on May 3, has given Dillon the platform to be an agent of change for queer and gender non-binary people. They used their platform to start a dialog with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to promote nongendered acting categories. "It is, in fact, discriminatory to separate people based on either their identity or their assigned sex at birth. If we were separating people by their hair color, their eye color, certainly their skin color, the uproar would be quite quick and clear." While they lobby for change, Dillon is just happy to be working on a show that they are also a fan of. "It's been incredibly exciting and incredibly humbling as well."

What can we expect from this season of Billions?

One of the things I really love about the show is the way it pretty directly mirrors the world at large. Taylor really has to answer some existential questions this season.

Do you think your character is having an impact on diversity in the masculine hedge fund industry?

This may come as a shock, but I don't follow the hedge fund world much. I don't know much other than a handful of messages I've received from people who say, "I feel a little more comfortable being more open about my identity at work." That's been an incredible silver lining of [my] character.

Was it ever intimidating to work with impressive guest stars like Mary Louise-Parker, John Malkovich and now Julianna Margulies?

Not in a way that made me hold back or in a way that made me afraid, but intimidating in a way that really inspired me to rise to the challenge. Working with someone like John Malcovich, I'm a better actor for having worked with him, and I'm a better actor for having worked with everyone on Billions, from the core cast to all of our guest stars.

You advocated for genderless consideration for the Emmys. Do you think award shows will have non-gendered acting categories?

The possibility certainly exists. How long it will take, I don't know. I'm excited to continue to rip that Band-aid off and have that conversation with anyone who is in charge.

Has working on Billions made you better with money?

I don't live paycheck to paycheck currently, which is something that I did for 17 years while working in the service industry. So in that sense, it's made me better with money so that I can buy things like socks. I still try to live as frugally as I can. Who knows how long it will last?