The 19-year-old, who came out as nonbinary in early 2023, said they were confused about submitting their name for this year’s Emmys.
Bella Ramsey, who identifies as nonbinary and goes by they/them pronouns, is urging award shows to make "more space" in gendered award show categories and be more inclusive of non-binary people. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the 19-year-old, who came out as nonbinary in early 2023, said they were confused about submitting their name for this year’s Emmys. The "Last of Us" star said they are “uncomfortable” at the idea of fitting into either of the lead-acting races. “The categories at the moment feel extremely gendered with the language around them," said Ramsey, adding that after "Yellowjackets" nonbinary star Liv Hewson announced their withdrawal from the Emmys race on April 26, Ramsey considered doing the same.
“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,” Ramsey 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 complex.” According to Popbuzz, while speaking with "The Last of Us" co-creator Craig Mazin about potential alternatives, Ramsey said they later decided to go ahead and submit their work in the actress categories. They added, "For nonbinary and nonconforming people to have a say and be part of those discussions and those conversations, that’s important. I just hope there’s more space for nonbinary people to be recognized within future categories."
Ramsey, who plays the role of Ellie on HBO's "The Last of Us," spoke with GQ in February 2023 and talked about how they feel about identifying as nonbinary and the power of playing women on screen. However, Ramsey wished that her fans and viewers would stop calling her a “young woman” because of how she appears on the screen. "This is what bothers me more than pronouns: Being called a ‘young woman’ or a ‘powerful young woman’, ‘young lady,’ but I'm just not [that],” Ramsey said. “Catherine Called Birdy, I was in dresses. Young Elizabeth, I was in a corset. And I felt super powerful in that. Playing these more feminine characters is a chance to be something so opposite to myself, and it’s really fun.”
According to Teen Vogue, Ramsey said they identify as a person, rather than a gender. “I’m very much just a person,” she said. “Being gendered isn’t something that I particularly like." When she was first cast as Ellie, Ramsey said she would often scroll through social media and look at all the criticism about her playing the role of a "young woman." Though Ramsey is not afraid of the critics, she said people should just get used to it now. “I know people will think what they want to think. But they’re gonna have to get used to it," she said. "If you don’t want to watch the show because it has gay storylines, because it has a trans character, that’s on you, and you’re missing out.”
When writer Frank E. Woods, a founding member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, first devised the list of Oscar categories in the 1920s, there was a list that included an unspecified actor field. Though he changed his mind, executive director of the Oscars, Bruce Davis, said that Woods may have done so for a reason. “All the categories were non-gendered—you didn’t have awards for women editors and men editors, you hashed them together—but he thought that there might be a reason to treat the acting awards differently,” said Davis, who spent 20 years as the Academy’s executive director. “This was never really a big debate.”