How Asia Kate Dillon's Gender Nonbinary 'Billions' Character Is Affecting Real Change
With the introduction of Axe Capital employee-turned-CIO Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon), Billions (writer: Alice O'Neill) made history. The Showtime drama about the high stakes world of billionaires and the financial wars they wage debuted the gender nonbinary character in Season 2. Not only did Taylor become the very first gender nonconforming character, but they were also the first to be played by a gender nonconforming actor. It was a huge step forward for LGBTQ inclusion and representation in pop culture. And now the show has doubled down on Taylor, making Dillon a series regular for Billions Season 3 (premiering Sunday, March 25 at 10 p.m. on Showtime).
In fact, series showrunners Brian Koppelman and David Levien revealed at the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on Saturday that they had actually decided to promote Dillon from guest star to series regular even before their first episode aired back in Season 2. Despite that being a huge gamble, since there was no telling how viewers would respond to the addition of a new character in such a major way, that's how much the producers knew how important Dillon's debut was, both for the series and for LGBTQ representation and inclusion. "We felt like the time was right," Levien says of introducing TV's first gender nonbinary character. "We don't live in ancient Babylonia anymore."
Koppelman adds that while they definitely couldn't predict how people would react to a new character on an established series, they "were not surprised at all" when fans fell in love with Taylor on the show.
"We knew from the first scenes that they played ... that they just fit into this show and this world," Koppelman says. "From the conception, Taylor was an incredibly important character. It's been rewarding to see the way people have responded. It's been inspiring to us to see how welcome Asia and Taylor have been by a really diverse group of people."
Dillon's scene partner Damian Lewis, who plays hedge fund king Bobby "Axe" Axelrod, was blown away by his first scenes with them. Koppelman remembered Lewis' utter shock and respect for Dillon after he first yelled cut, and Dillon couldn't stop smiling as Koppelman continued to shower them with compliments.
"The response has been really, really gratifying," Dillon says. "I didn't know what the response to Taylor was going to be. I hoped that people would love them and it turned out that people did. The range of responses that I got from people of all ages from all over the world saying 'I'm nonbinary' or 'I'm gender-fluid' or 'I'm trans and just by having you as a representative I feel less alone,' to parents of kids saying 'my kid is nonbinary or gender-fluid or trans and I was having trouble relating to them and Taylor helped me do that.'"
In fact, Dillon received quite a surprising note from someone on Twitter that they never expected to see.
"Someone tweeted at me recently, 'I'm 65 years old, I'm a Republican, I'm a white man, I'm cisgendered and straight, and I was transphobic until I learned to love Taylor on the show Billions because I love that show,'" Dillon says. "I mean, that is real change. That's art affecting real change that's going to make the world a little bit safer. And that is the most gratifying thing that I can ask for out of the work I'm doing."
And with Taylor's promotion at Axe Capital as Axe takes a step back from his company during his indictment after Chuck (Paul Giamatti) got him arrested, expect to see even more of this groundbreaking character as Billions heads into Season 3.