More Women Win Gender Neutral Categories – The Hollywood Reporter
Mar 7, 2023
The Independent Spirit Awards became the latest awards show to hand out trophies in gender-neutral acting categories on Saturday.
At the celebration of independent film and TV in Santa Monica, three women and one man won in the lead and supporting acting categories, which combined the previous best actor/actress and supporting actor/actress honors. Each category featured 10 nominees.
One of this year’s acting winners, Quinta Brunson, who won for best lead performance in a new scripted series for Abbott Elementary, said during her acceptance speech that she was into the gender-neutral category.
“It’s kind of tight, in there with your peers,” she said.
After the Spirit Awards announced it was doing away with the gender-specific categories, there was some concern expressed that women might be hurt by this move, with men perhaps dominating the winners in the combined categories.
“That was certainly discussed,” Film Independent president Josh Welsh told The Hollywood Reporter at the time of that issue. “And there’s a very legitimate concern that Hollywood is obviously not a level playing field when it comes to women in the industry. … But I don’t think the way to address that problem is by holding on to sort of antiquated award categories. I don’t think that’s the solution.”
Still, Women in Film CEO Kirsten Schaffer applauded the Spirit Awards move when it was announced.
“The work of Women in Film, particularly in the last few years, has been to advance women and gender nonconforming people in the industry. And so this is definitely a way to do that,” Schaffer told THR.
“All of the actors who identify as non-binary or don’t fall cleanly into a gendered category now have an opportunity.”
“I applaud them for trying something new,” she added. “Sometimes I think the thing that’s going to level the playing field for women is to change the dynamics around gender. So that if we all moved in direction of gender nonconformity or nonbinary-ism, maybe then we wouldn’t have such a problem.”
Early in the 2023 Spirit Awards show, host Hasan Minhaj poked fun at the move, joking that the organization is ahead of its time for knowing that “moral depravity has no gender.”
“We don’t care about your gender identity as long as you’re hot,” he joked. “No uggos allowed. Ain’t that right, Daniel Dae Kim? Look at that jawline that can cut bread. You just came out of a 3D printer of hotness.”
He went on to call out Fox News and Tucker Carlson, saying that the Spirit Awards aren’t “mired in the culture wars.”
“We don’t care about pointless binaries, like male or female,” he added. “We only care about important binaries, like lead or supporting.”
He went on to say he supports getting rid of gender-specific categories, “because for the first time in history, all the men will know how all the women feel when they find out they’re competing with Cate Blanchett.”
The Spirit Awards’ move to gender-neutral categories follows in the footsteps of other awards shows like the Gotham Awards and MTV Movie & TV Awards which went gender-neutral with their categories in recent years.
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