Daily Mail

And the award for Best Actress goes to... the dustbin of history?

- Alison Boshoff

HOW much longer will there be a ‘best actor’ and ‘best actress’ at awards shows? Oscars sources confirm this week that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is consulting on the topic — with a view to ditching the ‘gendered’ categories.

The races for Best Actor and Actress are among the most followed in both old and new media, and the Academy will be hesitant to tamper with that, against the background of consistent­ly falling TV viewership for the awards ceremony.

Sources at the Academy say they don’t want to be on the wrong side of ‘important discussion­s around representa­tion and inclusivit­y’ in the industry — particular­ly not after the damaging ‘Oscars so white’ scandal.

They haven’t yet got around to canvassing the rank and file, who are largely old, white and male, but they can expect some rebellion from that quarter.

They also need to find a way to accommodat­e the small but growing band of non-binary or trans actors such as Emma Corrin, Elliot Page and Yasmin Finney.

Any change would be hugely significan­t to the entertainm­ent industry, and the Academy would be viewed as the leader globally.

The move comes after the LA Times described the gendered Oscar awards as a ‘sexist Hollywood relic’ in December.

The Independen­t Spirit Awards, handed out last weekend, honored the ‘Lead Actor’ rather than having male and female winners.

Some believe that the gender neutral movement disadvanta­ges female actors — although it was Michelle Yeoh who triumphed at the Spirit awards.

However at the gender neutral Brit awards this year there was dismay when it was revealed that there were no female nominees for Best Artist.

Meanwhile, top brass at Bafta have been grappling with the ‘gender neutral’ hot potato for more than a year — and I’m told a decision is still a long way off.

It’s likely that they will be handing out ‘ Best Actor’ and ‘ Best Actress’ masks in 2024 and 2025, such is the (lack of) speed at which they are mulling the issue. (Bafta’s 7,500 members have yet to be consulted.)

The organisati­on has a new CEO, Jane Millichip, who arrived from Sky in October. Her predecesso­r Amanda Berry said last February that the issue was ‘under review’.

And under Millichip, the reviewing continues.

Earlier this year the director Sir Sam Mendes said he believed change was ‘inevitable’.

The Brit music awards went gender neutral two years ago; and the Bifas (the British Independen­t Film Awards) joined them this year.

The Olivier Awards — which honour theatrical performanc­es in the UK — started consulting on the issue in January. And the Tony Awards — the theatre version of the Oscars — are expected to announce gender neutral acting awards by next year.

LAST month, Justin David Sullivan — a trans non- binary singer and actor — decided to abstain from the event.

In a statement Sullivan, star of the musical & Juliet, said: ‘I was told that I had to choose [the category in which I felt comfortabl­e], and in that process, I struggled a lot. I felt like I couldn’t choose.’

The New York Times reports that Billions actor Asia Kate Dillon, who identifies as nonbinary, did the same thing privately, when considered for their turn as Malcolm in Macbeth.

A spokesman for the Tonys said: ‘We are working thoughtful­ly to ensure that no member of our community feels excluded, on the basis of gender identity, in future seasons.’

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