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‘The Last Of Us’ star Bella Ramsey is changing norms and breaking boundaries—just by being their kick*ss self

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This profile is part of Queerty’s 2023 Out For Good series, recognizing public figures who’ve had the courage to come out and make a difference in the past year.

Name: Bella Ramsey, 19

Bio: Ramsey is an English actor who has already scored an Emmy nomination for leading a hit television series, headlined a critically acclaimed movie, and guested on one of the most talked about shows of all time—and they’re still a teenager!

Born in Nottingham, the performer began acting when they were 4. By the time they turned 13, they knew they wanted to take their career in the arts more seriously and started auditioning for roles.

Their first? Oh, just a little show by the name of Game Of Thrones! The HBO fantasy epic was already a TV blockbuster when Ramsey joined the cast in 2016, playing the tiny but fearsome Lyanna Mormont, an immediate fan favorite.

Off of that breakout success, Ramsey led the television adaptation of children’s novels The Worst Witch, voiced the titular role in animated series Hilda, and starred in medieval coming-of-age tale Catherine Called Birdy, which earned them further critical acclaim.

And in 2023 came The Last Of Us, the buzzy post-apocalyptic video game drama which made them and co-star Pedro Pascal household names. As Ellie, the scrappy survivor who might be the key to curing a deadly fungal virus, Ramsey brought groundbreaking LGBTQ+ representation to the series, on screen and off.

For their stellar work on the show, Ramsey received an Emmy nomination this summer. And, putting a cherry on top of their brief but mighty career thus far, Ramsey was just named as part of the Time 100 “Next List”—all before they turn 20 at the end of this month. 

Coming out: On the eve of The Last Of Us‘ debut, Ramsey was profiled by The New York Times and, for the first time, spoke publicly about their gender fluidity.

They had just been nominated in the Best Young Performer category at the Critic’s Choice Awards for Catherine Called Birdy, and were thrilled the category wasn’t gender-specific, remarking they loved being mistaken for a boy as a child.

“Someone would call me ‘she’ or ‘her’ and I wouldn’t think about it, but I knew that if someone called me ‘he’ it was a bit exciting,” they shared.

At the time, Ramsey said they would select “nonbinary” as an option on a form, while remaining indifferent about what pronouns they identified with day-to-day. “I’m very much just a person,” they said. “Being gendered isn’t something that I particularly like, but in terms of pronouns, I really couldn’t care less.”

Since then, Ramsey has been refreshingly frank in their evolving thoughts around their gender. In a feature with British Vogue this Pride Month, the actor cited their shyness for the reason they weren’t fully ready to acknowledge their nonbinary identity.

“I’ve fought that word for so long,” Ramsey admitted. “I didn’t want people to think I was just trying to be trendy. But it’s a very succinct way to describe to people who I am.”

“I had a lot of anxiety around pronouns,” they continued. “When The Last of Us first came out, I was like, ‘Everyone just call me “she” because I look like a “she” to you, so it’s fine.’ But now I’m able to vocalize it more, being called ‘they’ is the most truthful thing for me. That’s who I am the most.”

Further cementing Ramsey’s rise to stardom was their aforementioned Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for The Last Of Us.

The nod was a historic one, no doubt—making Ramsey only the second nonbinary actor nominated in a lead role after The Crown‘s Emma Corrin—but not without some caveats: Namely, the Emmy’s continued use of gendered categories, which don’t technically make space for performers like Ramsey.

For their part, the actor expressed their gratitude, sharing in a statement that “[being] given this recognition alongside other phenomenal performers makes my little heart feel very big, thank you.”

However, in conversation with Vanity Fair, Ramsey was able to dig deeper into the nuances of gendered categories:

“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,” they shared.

But they’re eager to find a path forward—so long as gender non-conforming people are included: “For [nonbinary people] to have a say and be part of those discussions and those conversations, that’s really important… I just hope there’s more space for nonbinary people to be recognized within [future] categories.”

Let’s hope those conversations have started because, with stars like Ramsey already opening new doors for nonbinary people in the film and television, the rest of the industry is going to have to catch up!