The 30th annual Gotham Awards will eliminate the gendered acting categories beginning with its 2021 ceremony. The individual male and female lead categories will be condensed into one: outstanding lead performance. Meanwhile, the Gothams will also for the first time add an outstanding supporting performance category, which will also be gender neutral. Up to 10 nominees are eligible in each category.
The Gothams’ longtime influential “breakthrough actor” award will be renamed “breakthrough performer,” even though this category has always been gender-neutral. It has gone to the likes of Elliot Page, Mya Taylor, Michael B. Jordan, and Amy Adams. Last year, it went to Kingsley Ben-Adir for “One Night in Miami.”
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Additional category updates for 2021 include the creation of a Breakthrough Nonfiction Series award (previously included with fiction series) and the eligibility of international documentaries in the Best Documentary Feature category. The Gotham Awards will also be adding the first acting category within its Breakthrough Series categories with Outstanding Performance in a New Series, which will also make room for up to 10 nominees.
The nominees are chosen by a committee comprised of film critics and curators, as well as film festival programmers. Juries comprised of writers, directors, actors, producers, and others from throughout the film industry will determine the final winners, as is Gotham Awards tradition. Previously, the acting categories at the Gothams only made room for five nominees.
“There are so many talented nonbinary individuals, and it’s not fair to force them into male and female boxes,” said Jeffrey Sharp, the executive director of the Gotham Film and Media Institute in New York, host of the awards, in an interview with The New York Times. “We have a really proud history of inclusivity. It’s part of our DNA. But it was time for us to evolve, too.”
This year’s ceremony takes place on November 29, returning the Gothams to their usual slot at the front of the Oscar race. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 ceremony was shifted to January 2021.
“In terms of the danger of being skewed one way or another, we have great faith in the individuals who make our nominations decisions,” Sharp said.
Earlier this year, the Berlin Film Festival eliminated gendered acting categories for its awards. The Emmys, in 2021, also allowed nominees to use the gender-neutral term “performer,” while still retaining the separate gendered acting categories that have marked the ceremony for decades.
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