Emmys change rules so actors can be recognized as gender-neutral 'Performers' on award statues

·2 min read

In a small but noteworthy move for the LGBTQ community, especially gender-noncomforming individuals, the Television Academy's Board of Governors made some tweaks to the rules for this year's Emmy Awards and beyond.

Announced on Monday night, a nominee or winner of any Actor or Actress category can request they be recognized with the more gender-neutral title "Performer" on their nomination certificate and Emmy statuette.

The categories themselves relating to Actor and Actress won't change, though an advisory note from the Academy states, "No performer category titled 'Actor' or 'Actress' has ever had a gender requirement for submissions."

Billions star Asia Kate Dillon, who identifies as nonbinary, notably campaigned for many awards bodies, including the Emmys, to change their rules surrounding gendered acting categories.

David McNew/Getty Images Emmys statuette.

In 2017, Dillon sent a letter to the Television Academy and received in response what they called a thoughtful exchange, according to Variety.

"I'd like to know if in your eyes 'actor' and 'actress' denote anatomy or identity and why it is necessary to denote either in the first place?" Dillon's letter read in part. "The reason I'm hoping to engage you in a conversation about this is because if the categories of 'Actor' and 'Actress' are in fact supposed to represent 'Best Performance by a Person Who Identifies as a Woman' and 'Best Performance by a Person Who Identifies as a Man' then there is no room for my identity within that award system binary. Furthermore, if the categories of 'Actor' and 'Actress' are meant to denote assigned sex I ask, respectfully, why is that necessary?"

Meanwhile, Pose star Mj Rodriguez spoke about awards voters generally in an interview for EW's Pride Month cover. (Aside from Billy Porter, a cisgender gay man, no performers from Pose have been recognized in any acting categories to date, including nominations.)

"I know exactly what they're thinking right now," Rodriguez said. "I know they don't see me as a woman. I know that. They don't have to tell me. They've made it very apparent, but my job is to show them how much of a woman I am through the work that I'm doing."

This recent update also came with the amendment that any documentary submitted for Oscars consideration "will be deemed a theatrical motion picture and thus ineligible for the Emmy competition."

This year's Emmys will be held on Sept. 19.

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