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'Vida' star Ser Anzoategui becomes first non-binary actor nominated in all male category at Imagen Awards

The Imagen Awards, which air Sunday night, is the only award show dedicated to honoring Latinx talent in television and film.
Ser Anzoategui in \"Vida.\"
Ser Anzoategui in "Vida."Starz / Courtesy Everett Collection

Actor Ser Anzoategui is the first nonbinary and trans Latinx actor nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy TV series at the 36th annual Imagen Awards.

Anzoategui is being recognized amongst their all-male peers for their performance as Eddy in STARZ's dramedy "Vida."

Eddy became one of the most beloved Latinx queer characters in the show, which broke ground following its 2018 premiere for revolutionizing TV queer representation by rejecting tokenism and realistically portraying the complexities of a community that's often misrepresented or ignored in media.

"It's everything that you want as an artist," Anzoategui told NBC News on Saturday. "Finally to have an award shows, but particularly a Latino organization that recognizes inclusivity within the process of nominating. ... It shows an example of what these big, internationally recognized award shows like the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the Emmys could do. Look on to the Imagen Foundation and see what they've done."

Anzoategui’s nomination gains additional meaning as The Imagen Foundation, which organizes the award show, announced last month that the organization received 350 submissions for consideration, a record since last year.

“The Imagen Foundation continues to be proud of being the only awards ceremony that honors Latino talent and contributions within the television, film, and streaming platforms,” said Imagen Foundation President Helen Hernandez in a statement. “There is no question that there is a wealth of talent amongst our community. Our theme this year, 'Our Community: Diverse, Talented, and United,' speaks to the array of entries."

As a nonbinary and trans actor, Anzoategui uses pronouns they/them. But in the show, they transform into a "butch Latinx lesbian woman from Boyle Heights" who leans on her queer community to cope with her wife’s death (the character of Eddy uses female pronouns) and reconnect with her wife's daughter, Emma, as she also finds empowerment in her queerness.

The show's third and final season premiered on April 2020. It paints a deeply sublime contemporary portrait of a diverse multigenerational Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles in an empathetic way — using growing conflicts around gentrification to build relatable narratives about love and relationships on the intersection of gender, cultural and spiritual identity, as well as class, race, immigration status and sexual orientation.

"When you do work really hard and sacrifice... . You never know when it comes back as this moment right now," they said about their Imagen Awards nomination.

Prior to Anzoategui's nomination, the actor had been very vocal about their "challenging experience" submitting to other award shows such as the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Emmy Awards.

"I’m playing a female role, but that doesn’t mean I should be up for Emmy consideration as an 'actress any more than Jeffrey Tambor should have been considered in that category for playing a transgender woman in 'Transparent,'” Anzoategui wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 2019. "To place me in the actress category is to make me invisible."

And in a guest column published on Deadline on February, Anzoategui made the case for a "non-binary award category."

"Part of this whole experience was going through this process and putting a voice to my experience, so people see what someone like myself has to go through when it comes to this," they said. "It's more than just gendering the awards. It's also the process of what the actors or actresses go through."

Other actors nominated alongside Anzoategui for best supporting actor in a comedy TV series include "Ted Lasso's" Cristo Fernández, "What We Do In The Shadows'" Harvey Guillén, "Saved by The Bell's" Mario Lopez, "Love, Victor's" James Martinez, and "Mr. Iglesias'" Oscar Nuñez.

"With males in the category it's really much more like competitive because, when you're looking at how many more roles are for males versus actresses, and then to be considered within all men, to be nominated as someone who isn't playing a male character," Anzoategui said, "it's like saying, 'we see what you're saying about gender and we're being open with the nominating process to also include you.'"

The Imagen Awards air Sunday night at 5p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on PBS SoCal and KCET.

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