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The Independent Spirit Awards Shift to Gender-Inclusive Acting Categories

My Princess Diana (at last year’s Indie Spirits). Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

The Independent Spirit Awards is the latest show to abolish gendered acting categories. Film Independent announced on August 23 that it will create gender-neutral film and TV categories for Best Lead Performance and Best Supporting Performance, with each category including ten nominees, Vanity Fair reports. In the spirit of celebrating the best in indie film and TV, the organization also created a brand-new category, Best Breakthrough Performance, that honors five actors on the rise. The move comes on the heels of similar decisions made by the Grammys, the Gotham Awards, the British Independent Film Awards, and the MTV Movie & TV Awards to establish gender-inclusive categories. “We’re thrilled to join the other festivals and award shows that are already moving to celebrate great acting without reference to gender,” said Film Independent president Josh Welsh. “We’re also happy to welcome nonbinary performers into the Spirit Awards without forcing them to choose to identify as male or female.” While the move could mean fewer actors overall will be awarded statues at the Indie Spirits, another show was able to get around this issue: The Gothams chose to award multiple actors in the same category.

Film Independent also announced that the budget cap for eligible films has been raised from $22.5 million to $30 million in an acknowledgment of the rising cost of production. “This new cap allows us to continue to celebrate the same breadth of work that we have in the past,” said Welsh. While these changes are a welcome push toward inclusivity, there isn’t yet an indication that the other major awards shows — including the Oscars and the Emmys — will follow in the Indie Spirits’ footsteps.

The Indie Spirits Shift to Gender-Inclusive Categories