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Keivonn Woodard, 10, Becomes First Black Deaf Actor to Receive Emmy Nomination

Keivonn Montreal Woodard has made Emmy Awards history for his work in The Last of Us. On Wednesday, the 10-year-old kid received an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a drama series for his portrayal as apocalypse survivor Sam Burrell in HBO’s blockbuster drama. As a result, he became the category’s youngest nominee.

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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.

Keivonn Woodard and his mother April Jackson-Woodard in an interview with The Daily Moth in December 2022. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/The Daily Moth

The Emmy nominations were released on Wednesday, and numerous Black artists received honors. The Emmy nominations honor television shows that aired between June 1, 2022, and May 31, 2023. During a virtual ceremony, actress Yvette Nicole Brown and TV Academy chair Frank Scherma unveiled this year’s nominees.

The Last Of Us, an HBO series based on a video game, received 24 nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series. April Jackson-Woodard, Woodard’s mother, 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.”

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