10-year-old Keivonn Woodard becomes first Black deaf actor to receive Emmy nomination

Mildred Europa Taylor July 18, 2023
Keivonn Woodard and his mother April Jackson-Woodard in an interview with The Daily Moth in December 2022. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/The Daily Moth

For his role in The Last of Us, Keivonn Montreal Woodard has made Emmy Awards history. The 10-year-old actor earned an Emmy nomination on Wednesday for outstanding guest actor in a drama series for his role as apocalypse survivor Sam Burrell in the HBO hit drama. This made him the youngest actor to be nominated in the category.

Woodard, who is deaf, also became the first-ever Black Deaf actor to be nominated. The young talent told Deadline that he was shocked that he got the nod. “I think that everybody should just do their best when they’re trying to act and just go for the auditions,” he said.

“Don’t worry about it, and just go ahead and try to act your best. Yes, it was hard with the facial expressions and learning how to [interpret the script for American Sign Language], but I think it’s really important to also learn to listen to your production team and to collaborate with them. I got in, and so can you,” he added.

Nominations for the Emmy Awards were announced on Wednesday, and many Black entertainers have earned nods. The Emmy nominations recognize shows on TV that ran from June 1, 2022, to May 31, 2023. Actress Yvette Nicole Brown and TV Academy chair Frank Scherma announced this year’s slate of nominees during a virtual ceremony.

The Last Of Us, an HBO series based on a video game, got the nod 24 times across different categories, including Outstanding Drama Series. Woodard’s mom April Jackson-Woodard said she has been receiving messages since her son was nominated.

“People kept sending messages, and I cried immediately because I never thought or dreamed it would happen to my son,” she said to Deadline. “You know, I never even considered it. After Keivonn got the role, I asked myself, ‘How do I even prepare my life?’ It wasn’t easy, especially as a Black Deaf mother and also being a widow. I was trying to take care of everything on my own, but he would say, ‘Mom, I got this.’ And he did.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 18, 2023


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