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Gendered awards do not reflect diverse talent

Akhila Nadimpalli
Illustration by Akhila Nadimpalli

Award shows captivate all of us with the glitz and glamor of the celebrity lifestyle. 

From judging the red carpet looks to waiting on the edge of our seats to see if our favorite actor won the award we believe they deserve, we can’t help but watch these events. 

However, in recent years, a common theme of discussion has surrounded these ceremonies. 

Audiences are debating whether the gendered categories in award shows are too outdated.

A few ceremonies have tried to turn toward gender-neutral awards like the MTV Movie & TV Awards and the Spirit Awards, but most of the well-known events still offer categories for male and female nominees. 

The Oscars is one such event, keeping gendered categories like “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” since the show first debuted in 1929.

Yet other categories such as “Best Director” are not dictated by the sex of the nominees. If some categories can remain genderless, then why can’t they all?

A nominee’s gender does not affect the job they have on the set of their project. Every actor puts in excruciating work to ensure that they give the best performance possible and do their character justice.

If the only thing separating actors is their gender, that does not merit a need for different categories. We should judge actors exclusively for their quality of work. No matter their gender or identity, every actor deserves the same opportunity and judgment

There is also a challenge for nonbinary celebrities to receive the credit they deserve, while still being correctly recognized. In July, Bella Ramsey, the nonbinary lead of the HBO series “The Last of Us,” was nominated for “Best Actress” at the Emmy Awards. 

Ramsey’s nomination sparked controversy within the audience and with fellow actors, as they were forced into a category that does not directly reflect their identity. 

“I don’t want the limitations in terms of the language in the categories to be a reason that nonbinary actors like me can’t be celebrated, and it can open up a conversation about how it feels—as long as I’m aware of the fact that it’s not ideal, but also that finding alternatives is really complex,” Ramsey told Vanity Fair when asked about the nomination.

Gendered categories make it seem like nonbinary artists have no space in the entertainment industry. 

Ramsey isn’t the only actor to feel the constraints of gendered awards. Emma Corrin, who portrayed Princess Diana in the Netflix series “The Crown,” won the Golden Globe for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama” in 2021. However, Corrin is nonbinary and prefers they/them pronouns. 

Corrin has spoken out on the matter, telling BBC “I don’t think the categories are inclusive enough at the moment. It’s about everyone being able to feel acknowledged and represented.”

Gendered award categories appear as if they are belittling the hard work that actors put in year-round. 

If a nonbinary actor delivers an unbelievable performance in their previous film, they should have an equal opportunity to be judged for their work without being mislabeled. If a female actor is gaining attention online for their gut-wrenching monologue in the most popular television series of the year, then she should have the chance to be judged alongside her all-male cast. 

It is unclear when, or even if, we will ever see this change. No matter how long it takes, it is important to remember that the entertainment industry is a diverse platform, and award shows should reflect that.

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Akhila Nadimpalli, Design Editor

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