Imagination Connoisseur, Jeffrey Mao, presents a clear explanation as to why segregating industry awards for acting by gender is a good idea … and his reasons might surprise you.

Greetings Rob:

Even though it has now passed the “awards season”, I thought I would still weigh in on the topic that our man, Brian Ng, has raised about whether the acting categories should be awarded based on gender.

John Campea was asked a similar question and he provided an explanation about why he felt acting awards should be segregated based on gender, but I felt his reasoning was not completely valid. So, I figured I would provide an explanation and reasoning that would work better and counter Brian’s contention that the awards should be gender neutral.

First off, let’s acknowledge that acting is the only personnel component of a film or TV show that appears in front of the camera. As such, they are gender constrained, and hiring for those roles must discriminate between males and females based on the characters. A male cannot go for a female role and a female cannot go for a male role. Acting is the only job role that is not gender neutral.

Logic therefore dictates that the combined number of male and female roles in all films, TV, and other visual content must be close to 50/50 as to reflect real life or whatever reality is portrayed. Perhaps certain genres will have more male roles (like war films) but for the most part, it will be 50/50 or very close to it once you factor in everything.

When it comes to creating awards, we don’t simply award the best person overall, but we create categories. We award the best person or persons at doing one thing. The same is done for motion pictures and other forms of entertainment.

Therefore, we award lead and supporting performances because there are different particular sets of skills to the different types of roles. Given the human predilection for wanting to categorize excellence in terms of awards, it is only logical that the acting categories would be divided between the genders. Since most films have equal male and female lead roles for the obvious narrative reasons, with a single lead acting category, many films would end up having the lead actor and actress both in the running for the same nomination. Imagine if both Adam Driver and Scarlet Johannson were nominated for Best Actor. They would negate each other.

We see many films already hesitate to promote co-leads of the same gender for nominations. Imagine if that were the case for a mixed gender category. It would seriously affect how many studios and production companies create and cast films. They would try to create only a lead male or female role with all others being supporting roles.

We’d see lots of ensemble films. Which wouldn’t be bad as many great films have been ensembles, or have only one clear lead like Joker, but c’mon we all benefit from variety.

The whole idea starts to quickly collapse on itself.

It would stifle creativity to not have equal lead male and female roles. Besides, how many films would give a collective arm and leg to win the Grand Slam of acting Academy Awards?

Now, as a producer or studio, you might not give two craps about awards recognition and do whatever you want. But one cannot deny the prestige and commercial attractions in garnering award nominations and wins.

So, I think that for the reasons that I have stated above, we’ll likely continue to have separate gender acting award categories for infinity and beyond.

Thanks, and look forward to hearing your thoughts,

– Jeffrey M.