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The Gotham Awards Introduce Gender Neutral Acting Categories For 2021

by Gotham on August 5, 2021

Outstanding Lead Performance and Supporting Performance Categories
Will Replace Actor and Actress Categories for Feature Films

New Outstanding Performance Category for Series Also Added

Deadline for 2021 Gotham Awards Submissions is Wednesday, September 15, 2021


New York, NY (August 5, 2021) – The Gotham Film & Media Institute announced today that, beginning this year, their Gotham Awards for acting will no longer be defined by gender. The Best Actor and Best Actress categories for independent feature films will be replaced with Outstanding Lead Performance and Outstanding Supporting Performance.

The move to introduce gender neutral lead and supporting acting awards builds on the legacy of the now 24-year-old Gotham Breakthrough Actor Award (to be renamed “Gotham Breakthrough Performer Award” as of this year) which has been gender neutral since its inception, and has previously been awarded to performers including Amy Adams, Elliot Page, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson and Anya Taylor-Joy.

Jeffrey Sharp, Executive Director of The Gotham Film & Media Institute, stated: “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.”

Additional category updates for 2021 include the creation of a Breakthrough Nonfiction Series award (previously included with 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 ten 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 the legacy categories.

As the first major awards ceremony of the fall season, the Gotham Awards provide critical early recognition and media attention to worthy independent films and series and their writers, directors, producers, and actors with twelve competitive awards categories. The awards are also unique for their ability to assist in catapulting award recipients prominently into national awards season attention.

The Gotham Awards named Nomadland as Best Feature in 2020, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. Previous acting winners include Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Awkwafina (The Farewell), and Nicole Beharie (Miss Juneteenth), with Ahmed and Driver both receiving Oscar nominations. In 2019, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story won the Gotham Award for Best Feature on its way to a Best Picture nomination later that season.

In addition to the competitive categories, the Gotham Awards also recognize significant achievement through career Tributes. The 2021 Tributes will be announced in the coming 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.

About The Gotham Film & Media Institute
The Gotham champions the future of storytelling by connecting artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution. The organization, under the leadership of Executive Director and award-winning producer Jeffrey Sharp, fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include Gotham Week, Gotham Labs, Filmmaker Magazine, the Gotham Awards, and Gotham EDU.

About The Gotham Awards
The Gotham Awards, one of the leading honors for independent film and television, provides early acknowledgement to groundbreaking independent films and television series. Selected by distinguished juries and presented in New York City, the home of independent film, the Gotham Awards are the first honors of the film awards season. This public showcase honors the filmmaking community, expands the audience for independent films, and supports the work that The Gotham Film & Media Institute does behind the scenes throughout the year to bring such films to fruition.

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