Gotham Awards eliminating gendered acting award categories

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Elliot Page, a past winner of the gender-neutral Gotham Breakthrough Actor Award, stars in “The Umbrella Academy.” [Netflix photo]

The New York-based Gotham Film & Media Institute has announced that, beginning this year, its Gotham Awards for acting will no longer be defined by gender.

The Best Actor and Best Actress categories for independent feature films will be replaced with Outstanding Lead Performance and Outstanding Supporting Performance, according to a news release.

The move to introduce gender-neutral lead and supporting acting awards builds on the legacy of the now 24-year-old Gotham Breakthrough Actor Award – to be renamed “Gotham Breakthrough Performer Award” as of this year – which has been gender-neutral since its inception. The breakthrough award previously been awarded to performers including Elliot Page, Amy Adams, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson and Anya Taylor-Joy.

“The Gotham Awards have a 30-year history of celebrating diverse voices in independent storytelling. We are proud to recognize outstanding acting achievements each year, and look forward to a new model of honoring performances without binary divisions of gender. We are grateful to those who helped to start this conversation in recent years and we are thrilled that the Gotham Awards will continue to support artistic excellence in a more inclusive and equitable way,” said Jeffrey Sharp, executive director of the Gotham Film & Media Institute, in a statement.

Additional category updates for 2021 include the creation of a Breakthrough Nonfiction Series award (previously included with fiction series) and the eligibility of international documentaries in the Best Documentary Feature category.

The Gotham Awards also will be adding the first acting category within its Breakthrough Series categories with Outstanding Performance in a New Series. There will be as many as 10 nominees in each of the three new categories, including Outstanding Lead Performance, Outstanding Supporting Performance and Outstanding Performance in a New Series.

In addition to these new or updated awards, the remaining categories include Best Feature, Best International Feature, Best Screenplay and the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award for feature films.

The series awards include Breakthrough Series (less than 40 minutes) and Breakthrough Series (more than 40 minutes). There will be five nominees in each of the legacy categories.

As the first major ceremony of the fall awards season, the Gotham Awards provide critical early recognition and media attention to worthy independent films and series and their writers, directors, producers, and actors with twelve competitive awards categories. The awards are unique for their ability to assist in catapulting award recipients prominently into national awards season attention.

The Gotham Awards named “Nomadland” as Best Feature in 2020, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. Previous acting winners include Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”), Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”), Awkwafina (“The Farewell”), and Nicole Beharie (“Miss Juneteenth”), with Ahmed and Driver both receiving Oscar nominations.

In 2019, Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” won the Gotham Award for Best Feature on its way to a Best Picture nomination later that season.

In addition to the competitive categories, the Gotham Awards also recognize significant achievement through career tributes. The 2021 tributes will be announced in the coming weeks.

Submissions for the 2021 Gotham Awards are now open. Detailed eligibility, criteria, and submission information is available at

The deadline for submissions for the 2021 Gotham Awards is Sept. 15.

Nominations will be announced Oct. 21, and the Gotham Awards Ceremony will take place on Nov. 29 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.


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