10-Year-Old Actor of ‘The Last of Us’ Makes History As First Black Deaf Actor To Receive An Emmy Nomination


July 19, 2023

He’s also the youngest actor to ever be nominated in his category!

10-year-old Keivonn Montreal Woodard has just made history as the youngest actor to ever receive an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a drama series, People reports. Keivonn starred as apocalypse survivor Sam Burrell, the brother of “the most wanted man in Kansas,” in HBO’s hit drama “The Last of Us.” Keivonn also has made history as the first Black Deaf actor to ever win an Emmy nomination.

Keivonn’s mom April Jackson-Woodard said she has been overwhelmed with praise and congratulations for her son. His co-stars have reached out as well as fellow actors and the community. “The Last of Us,” was Keivonn’s first television show and Jackson-Woodard said they are “completely humbled and honored.”


“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,” explained Jackson-Woodard.

10-year-old “The Last of Us” actor makes history as first Black Deaf actor to receive an Emmy nomination/Photo Courtesy of Liane Hentscher/HBO

Keivonn said although this was his first breakout role, he felt very supported by his castmates, many of whom he’s become extremely close with including Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, and Lamar Johnson, who plays his older brother and took home an Emmy nomination in the guest actor in a drama series category as well. 

“Bella really became like a big sister…Pedro, he was able to [receptively] understand and give hugs and [friendly] gestures…Lamar, we were almost like brothers. We would play video games and chat using technology. A lot of [the cast] learned sign language, even though we didn’t ask anybody to do anything. It was an amazing experience. A good representation of what the world should be, everybody, interacting and communicating regardless of anything,” Keivonn said of his time on set. 


The budding star also received praise on social media from fellow Deaf actress Marlee Matlin, who became the first Deaf person to win an Oscar in 1987 at the age of 21. 

“Congratulations to first time Deaf actor Keivonn Montreal Woodard for being the youngest Emmy nominee as Guest Actor for @TheLastofUsHBO. As the youngest Best Actress winner myself for an Oscar, my hands are waving in the air for you!,” wrote Matlin. 



Keivonn joins a community of young Deaf creatives breaking barriers and blazing trails in the community. Popular TikToker Nakia Smith has been using her platform to educate people about Black American Sign Language. Meanwhile, HBCU student Justina Miles made history as the first Deaf woman ASL interpreter to perform at the Super Bowl and self-taught artist and partially Deaf prodigy Tyler Gordon has been using his art to inspire the world, releasing his first portrait book and NFT in 2021

Now Keivonn is making waves as well, acknowledging the impact of his historic achievement and encouraging other actors from similar marginalized communities to just do their best and allow the work to speak for itself.


“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,” said Keivonn.

“The Last of Us,” is currently streaming on Max. The series earned 17 nominations and winners will be announced during a live broadcast of the 75th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 18th.

Congratulations Keivonn! This is only the beginning!


Cover photo: 10-year-old “The Last of Us” actor makes history as first Black Deaf actor to receive an Emmy nomination/Photo Courtesy of Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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W.Maye Armstrong
W.Maye Armstrong
7 months ago

Congratulations Keivonn. So proud of your accomplishment. You are destined for greatness. 👍👍👍


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