TORONTO — Amanda Cordner says ACTRA Awards organizers’ decision to introduce new gender-nonconforming categories is a step in the right direction, but gender divisions still exist in the acting awards.
Cordner, star of CBC’s comedy “Sort of,” was among the nominees in the renowned “Outstanding Performance – Gender Nonconforming or Female” category, one of four renowned awards for acting and voice work.
But the actor says these new categories remain split between male and female performances.
ACTRA Toronto, the largest branch of the Canadian performers union, made the changes this year as part of an effort to be more inclusive.
Organizers say gender-nonconforming performers were given the option to submit based on their character’s gender or how they personally identify.
However, Cordner said they didn’t know they could choose which category to submit to and called the renamed categories “confusing”.
Cordner is up for his role as 7ven, the best friend of Bilal Baig’s main character, Sabi, in “Sort Of.” Both characters are non-binary.
The actor is nominated alongside Amanda Brugel for “The Handmaid’s Tale”, Getenesh Berhe for “Cinema of Sleep”, Kelly McCormack for “Sugar Daddy” and Tamara Podemski for “Coroner”.
In a statement, ACTRA said the category changes were made in consultation with the chapter’s queer committee, outACTRAto.
“We tried to create an award where (non-binary people) could feel safe,” David Gale, president of ACTRA Toronto, added in an interview.
“And if they haven’t come out, or if they’re playing a character that might be gender non-binary or a female character, they may have a place to put themselves. We’re just trying to make it… as convenient as possible for everyone.
Having a category dedicated to “best performer” would have made more sense, Corder suggested.
“It’s still male versus female, it’s still consistent,” they added. “I guess it’s a step in the direction, but I don’t know if we’re there yet.”
Cordner remained optimistic: “I know everyone is trying, it’s progress and (it) is happening slowly.”
Gale says the ACTRA committee is eager to see “how these categories will be accepted and understood,” suggesting that one day non-binary artists may have their own category.
For now, in addition to the gender non-conforming or female category, there is the newly named category “outstanding performance – gender non-conforming or male”.
Its nominees include Colm Feore for “Sugar Daddy”, Dayo Ade for “Cinema of Sleep”, Emeka Agada for “Nurses”, Vlad Alexis for “Moon” and Thomas Antony Olajide for “Learn to Swim”.
Meanwhile, nominees for “Outstanding Performance – Gender Nonconforming or Female Voice” include Angela Asher, for “Silver Cord Trailer”, Tina Jung for “Riders Republic”, Kimberly-Sue Murray for “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy”. , Lisa Norton for “Glowbies” and Ana Sani for “Ollie’s Pack”.
In the ‘Outstanding Performance – Gender Nonconforming or Male Voice’ category, nominees are Joshua Graham for ‘Go, Dog. Go’, Deven Mack for ‘Dragalia Lost’, Jon McLaren for ‘Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy’, Anand Rajaram for “Go, Dog. Go”, and Rob Tinkler for “Around the World in 80 Days”.
The ACTRA Awards will air on ACTRA Toronto’s YouTube channel on March 6.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 28, 2022.