10-Year-Old Keivonn Woodard Makes TV History With Emmy Nomination

Keivonn Woodard History Emmy

With the Emmy nominations announced yesterday, 10-year-old actor Keivonn Woodard just made history.

Woodard who starred as deaf apocalypse survivor Sam in The Last of Us and quickly became a fan favorite just scored his first Emmy nod. The the 10-year-old actor was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, making him the youngest-ever nominee in the category and the second-youngest Emmy nominee of all time. Keshia Knight Pulliam still holds the record as the youngest Emmy nominee ever, earning a nod when she was only 6 years old for her role as Rudy Huxtable in The Cosby Show.

That’s not the only historical feat he’s garnered. Woodard is now also first Black Deaf actor in the Television Academy’s history to secure a nomination.

READ: 2023 Emmy Award Nominations: Dominique Fishback Earns First Nomination + All Nominations

Speaking to Deadline, Woodard that he was “shocked” when he first found out about the news and that he was mindful about the “importance and huge impact” as a young Deaf Black boy to be honored by the nomination. Regarding setting an example for other actors from similar communities like himself, Woodard had some encouraging words: “I think that everybody should just do their best when they’re trying to act and just go for the auditions. 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.”

His mother, who learned first as her son was at basketball camp during the announcement added:

“People kept sending messages, and I cried immediately because I never thought or dreamed it would happen to my son. 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. He’s the first young Black Deaf actor to be nominated in Emmys history, on top of this being his first TV show [and major audition process]. We are completely humbled and honored.”

Woodard will be competing against several of his Last of Us costars, who are all nominated in the same category: His on-screen brother Johnson is also up for an Emmy, as are Murray Bartlett and Nick Offerman, who played doomed lovers Frank and Bill. Arian Moayed and James Cromwell are also nominated in the same category for Succession.

In all, The Last of Us earned a total 24 Emmy nominations, including nods for Best Drama Series, Best Actor for Pedro Pascal, and Best Actress for Bella Ramsey. The Emmys will air live Sept 18 at 8 p.m. ET/5 plm. PT on Fox.

As for where we can see Woodard next? The actor will star in Anslem Richardson’s short film Fractal, which is told through the eyes of an orphaned Deaf little boy who uses his unique Black Sign Language to communicate with mysterious creatures and find solace from police violence.

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