The Gotham Awards Introduce Gender-Neutral Acting Categories for 2021

The Gotham Awards Introduce Gender-Neutral Acting Categories for 2021

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On August 5th, The Gotham Film & Media Institute announced that, beginning with the upcoming Gotham Awards will no longer be defined by gender. The Best Actor and Best Actress categories for independent feature films will be replaced by Outstanding Lead Performance and Outstanding Supporting Performance.

The move to introduce gender-neutral lead and supporting acting awards adds to the legacy of the 24-year-old Gotham Breakthrough Actor Award (which will be renamed “Gotham Breakthrough Performaner Award” to recognize the shift to gender-neutral acting awards this year) but has been gender-neutral since its inception, with recipients including Amy Adams, Elliot Page, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, and Anya Taylor-Joy.

“The Gotham Awards have a thirty 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.”

Jeffrey Sharp, Executive Director of The Gotham Film & Media Institute

Other categories being updated for 2021 include the creation of a Breakthrough Nonfiction Series award (which was previously included alongside fiction series) and the eligibility of international documentaries in the Best Documentary Feature category. The Gotham Awards will also be adding the first acting category within its Breakthrough Series categories with Outstanding Performance in a New Series.

There will be up to 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 (under 40 minutes) and Breakthrough Series (over 40 minutes). There will be five nominees in each of these legacy categories. 

As the first major awards ceremony of the fall film season, the Gotham Awards provide critical early recognition and hype up independent films and series as well as their writers, directors, producers, and actors with 12 competitive awards categories, catapulting award recipients into the conversation as awards season begins.

Last year, The Gotham Awards named Nomadland as Best Feature, which went on to win Best Picture at the 93rd Oscars. Previous acting winners include Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Awkwafina (The Farewell), and Nicole Beharie (Miss Juneteenth), with both Ahmed and Driver receiving Oscar nominations for their respective films at the 92nd Oscars (Driver) and 93rd Oscars (Ahmed). In 2019, Marriage Story won the Gotham Award for Best Feature, which earned a Best Picture nomination for the 92nd Oscars.

In addition to these competitive categories, the Gotham Awards also recognize career achievements through Tributes. The 2021 Tributes will be announced in the next few weeks.

Submissions for the 2021 Gotham Awards will open on Friday, August 6. Detailed eligibility, criteria, and submission information is available at

The deadline for submissions for the 2021 Gotham Awards is Wednesday, September 15, 2021.

Nominations will be announced on Thursday, October 21, 2021, and the Gotham Awards Ceremony will take place on Monday, November 29, 2021 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Until next time!

Thanks to Thomas Stoneham-Judge from Movies For ReelShane Conto, Joseph Davis, David Walters, and Ambula Bula for supporting Austin B Media on Patreon!

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