Traditionally, acting categories at awards shows are split by gender. This means actors have to identify as a either a woman or a man to qualify for a nomination, leaving little room for gender fluidity or non-binary identities. But this year’s Leo Awards, a Canadian awards ceremony honoring excellence in TV and film, is proudly challenging that. Ameko Eks Mass Carroll, an 11-year-old actor who identifies as gender-fluid, has been nominated for an acting award in both the male and female categories.
Carroll starred in the short film Limina as Alessandra, a gender-fluid child. And Walter Daroshin, who is the chair of British Columbia’s Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Foundation and the president of the Leo Awards, spoke out about the ceremony’s progressive step toward acceptance. “We are proud to join our colleagues at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recognizing the importance of inclusivity when honoring artistic excellence,” Daroshin said in a statement.
The term “gender non-binary” encompasses any gender identity that isn’t simply “man” or “woman.” These include gender neutral (no gender identity), bigender (two gender identities—at different times or at once), and gender-fluid (gender identity changes)—among many others.
Worth noting: Other awards shows may have considered taking similar steps, as well. As THR pointed out, Kelly Mantle of RuPaul’s Drag Race was submitted for consideration in both male and female acting categories for the 2017 Oscars. Even though the Academy reportedly said that Mantle may be nominated in either category, she did not receive a nomination.
Despite only being 11 years old, Carroll has been busy on Twitter expressing excitement about the film’s success:
— Ameko E M Carroll (@amekoemcarroll) January 27, 2017
And Joshua M. Ferguson, who co-directed Limina, tweeted that he was proud of Carroll’s dual-category consideration:
— Joshua M. Ferguson (@joshuamferguson) January 27, 2017
Congratulations to Carroll on this exciting nomination, and congratulations to the Leo Awards for taking this important step forward.
You might also like: We Tried A Gender Neutral Online Personal Shopper (from BuzzFeed)