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Canadian Screen Awards makes next year’s acting categories gender neutral

No longer separate catgories for male and female performance awards
Organizers say next year’s Canadian Screen Awards will drop categories for male and female performers in favour of unspecified acting categories “to better represent the country’s diverse community of talent.” A rack of trophies are seen backstage at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Canada’s top film and television awards are going gender-neutral.

Organizers say next year’s Canadian Screen Awards will drop categories dedicated to male and female performers in favour of categories that aren’t divided by gender.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television says this will “better represent the country’s diverse community of talent.”

Instead of four film categories that each honour best lead actor or actress and best supporting actor or actress, there will be two categories recognizing best “performance in a leading role” and “performance in a supporting role.”

Several genre-based TV categories are similarly renamed. For instance, the contests for best lead comedy actor and actress are simply becoming “best lead performer” in a comedy.

Previously, each category allowed for five nominees, but going forward the Academy says eight nominees will be considered.

It adds that the change follows “a large-scale consultation effort completed over five years” and involved input from “40 key industry organizations.”

“The Canadian Academy believes this is a progressive, necessary step towards an equitable screen-based industry by ensuring all Canadian performers are eligible to be honoured by their peers,” academy Chairman John Young said Thursday in a release.

The move follows a broader industry shift away from gender-specific awards that includes the Toronto International Film Festival’s Tribute Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards, which recently announced gender-neutral acting categories for its 2023 edition.

The Junos, the Grammys, the British Independent Film Awards, and the MTV Movie & TV Awards also feature non-gendered categories.

The Canadian Screen Awards’ digital media performance categories have been gender-neutral since 2019.

“As the Canadian Academy, we recognize it is our duty to ensure that every performer has the opportunity to fully participate in our awards programs and the industry, in general, and this move brings us closer to that goal,” the academy’s interim CEO, Louis Calabro, said in a statement.

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