Emmys 2021 introduces gender neutral 'performer' title option for their trophies

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The Emmy Awards has announced it will be allowing winners to have a gender-neutral option for trophy winners at this year’s ceremony.

In a major move for an awards ceremony, the Emmys recognised the increase in non-binary talent and is adapting their rules to acknowledge the successes of those who don’t identify as male or female.

Now, instead of actors or actresses, winners and nominees of the categories can opt-in a request to be noted as a ‘performer’ on their certificates, and trophies if they win.

Actor Mj Rodriguez attends FX's
Pose star MJ Rodriguez attends third season premiere at Jazz in New York, 2021 (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The standing ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ categories will remain in place at the ceremony, but the Academy said in their statement: "No performer category titled 'Actor' or 'Actress' has ever had a gender requirement for submissions."

Nominations for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced on 13 July, and the winners will be announced at a ceremony on 19 September.

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The Emmys decision marks a major turning point for the long-standing actor/actress categories across all awards ceremonies.

In recent years, there have been calls for gendered awards to be removed with an overarching award for all genders to fall in its place.

Darren Criss, winner of the award for outstanding lead actor in a limited series, movie or dramatic special for
Darren Criss following his 'lead actor' win at the 2018 Emmy Awards (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Non-binary star Asia Kate Dillon, who starred in Billions, called in 2017 for the Academy to recognise performers in this way, stating: “I'd like to know if in your eyes 'actor' and 'actress' denote anatomy or identity and why it is necessary to denote either in the first place?”

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Transgender Pose star MJ Rodriguez also called for the change in Entertainment Weekly this year, after co-star Billy Porter was the only person on the cast recognised for their work on the beloved series.

"I know exactly what they're thinking right now," Rodriguez said. "I know they don't see me as a woman. I know that. They don't have to tell me.

Jonathan Van Ness, from front left, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Kamaro Brown, and David George, from back left, Jordana Hochman, Rob Eric, David Collins, Michael Williams, David Eilenberg, Rachelle Mendez, Jennifer Lane, Adam Sher winners of the award for outstanding structured reality program for
The cast and crew of Netflix's Queer Eye following their awards win (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

“They've made it very apparent, but my job is to show them how much of a woman I am through the work that I'm doing."

Singer Sam Smith, who identifies as non-binary, also made the same callout to the Brit Awards, which also has male and female categories.

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