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Best Performances First: The Canadian Screen Awards are Going Gender-Neutral

A camera films a neon-lit person sitting in a chair

Whether it’s a moving dramatic monologue or a can’t-stop-laughing comedy scene, an incredible acting performance is an incredible acting performance — regardless of the gender of the performer. Aligning with this, Canada’s top film and television awards, the Canadian Screen Awards, are going gender-neutral.

According to a release from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (AKA the Canadian Academy), the Canadian Screen Awards will drop male and female performance categories and shift to gender-neutral performance categories for lead and supporting performers in the film and television awards streams, starting with the 2023 awards.

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So, instead of “Best Lead Actor/Actress” or “Best Supporting Actor/Actress” in comedy and drama television series, performance categories for television will now be for “Best Lead Performer” (Comedy or Drama Series) or “Best Supporting Performer” (Comedy or Drama Series). For film awards, instead of “Performance by an Actor/Actress” in a leading or supporting role in film, awards will now be for “Performance in a Leading Role” or “Performance in a Supporting Role.”

…it is our duty to ensure that every performer has the opportunity to fully participate in our awards programs and the industry

Another change stemming from this shift is the number of nominations per category. Instead of five nominees per category, eight nominees will be considered per category going forward.   

See also: Let’s make gendered skincare products a thing of the past.

“The decision to transition to gender-neutral performance categories marks a groundbreaking change in the film and television awards industry, with the Canadian Academy being among the first of its kind to alter gender-specific awards categories to better represent the country’s diverse community of talent,” the release said, while also noting that the Canadian Screen Awards have awarded gender-neutral performance categories for the digital media awards stream since 2019.

“As the Canadian Academy, we recognize it is our duty to ensure that every performer has the opportunity to fully participate in our awards programs and the industry, in general, and this move brings us closer to that goal,” Louis Calabro, Interim CEO, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, said in the release. 


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“The Canadian Academy believes this is a progressive, necessary step towards an equitable screen-based industry by ensuring all Canadian performers are eligible to be honoured by their peers, and are thrilled to be among the first Academy of its kind in the world to implement this format,” John Young, Chair, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television added in the release.

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