Are The Emmy Awards Going Gender-Neutral?

The Television Academy courtyard after the2018 renovation. / Image via Dima Otvertchenko (CC)

The Emmys will now have performers instead of actors and actresses. That is, if the performers choose to be identified that way.

The Television Academy’s Board of Governors announced this change for the Emmy Awards on Monday, according to Deadline. From now on, any performers who wish to be identified with gender-neutral terms can request it.


Or more specifically, the academy said that instead of being nominated in an actor or actress category, they have to option to “request that their nomination certificate and Emmy statuette carry the term ‘Performer.’”

“No performer category titled ‘Actor’ or ‘Actress’ has ever had a gender requirement for submissions,” it wrote today. “Now, nominees and (or) winners in any performer category titled ‘Actor’ or ‘Actress’ may request that their nomination certificate and Emmy statuette carry the term ‘Performer’ in place of Actor or Actress.”


That said, there will still only be an Actor and Actress category. Nominees can just opt to be identified as a performer within those two categories.

This rule change is set to take effect at the beginning of this current 2021 Emmy Awards season. Though, this isn’t the only change in the works. The Television Academy is also adjusting the eligibility standards for documentary films. They hope to rule out any films that could be eligible for an Oscar.

The Academy’s specific words state that, “any film placed on the AMPAS viewing platform will be deemed a theatrical motion picture and thus ineligible for the Emmy competition.” This change, however, won’t take effect until 2022.  

Photo by Alex Suprun on Unsplash

The call for eliminating gendered categories has been increasing in the past year. For instance, Billions and John Wick star Asia Kate Dillon wrote an open letter to the Screen Actors Guild asking them to take “immediate action to combine your acting awards into gender-neutral categories.” According to Variety, Dillon argued that the separation of awards by gender was both irrelevant to the performances and discriminatory.

In addition, several other Awards have considered eliminating gendered categories. GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics voted in the past year to make the performance categories of its Dorian TV Awards gender-neutral. The Berlin Film Festival also announced a similar change.

But how will the Emmys handle this new policy? And will the option instead of a total change cause controversy? We’ll see when the nominations are announced on July 13 and the ceremony takes place on September 21.

Source: Deadline, Variety,

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