This year, the MTV Movie & TV Awards decided to change things up with the introduction of its gender-neutral acting categories: Best Actor in a Movie and Best Actor in a Show.
“MTV is breaking the mold and allowing all of us actors to be considered actors and not adhering to gender norms,” she told MTV News on the set of The Darkest Minds in Atlanta. “I’m just so thrilled to be in such incredible company with other actors whose work I admire. Atlanta, Donald Glover, who I’m obsessed with — just to be nominated alongside people with that ilk is above and beyond.”
For MTV, the intent was to reflect what young people were thinking and feeling when it came to movies and television in 2017. According to Vanessa Whitewolf, co-executive producer of the Movie & TV Awards, the Movie Awards have always been irreverent in nature — since the show’s creation in 1992 — but this year felt different. Producers felt like there was a desire from the audience for something a little deeper.
“This year, given everything that’s going on around us, it just seemed really important to make a lot of changes,” she said. “They just love good performances. They don’t care if it’s coming from a male or a female. Gender doesn’t really have anything to do with it.”
But the real question is will other award ceremonies follow suit? The Movie & TV Awards are fan-voted, which means you, the public, gets to decide which actor, male or female, deserves the Golden Popcorn. But for shows like the Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes, people within the industry make up the all-powerful voting body which ultimately decides who’s nominated and who wins.
Given how women, and specifically women of color, are already underrepresented in Hollywood, it seems dubious that a bunch of anonymous voters, who are mostly white and male, would ensure that a diverse spectrum of people are included among the nominees.
“When you look at these voting academies, there’s a lot of professional people in them that are voting for a whole host of reasons, but when you look at this generation, they’re just voting because they love something,” Whitewolf said. “When you think about it being divided by gender, it starts to feel really antiquated.”
Last month, Billions star and Movie & TV Awards presenter Asia Kate Dillon, who identifies as gender non-binary, wrote a letter to the Television Academy after they were unsure whether to submit in the Best Supporting Actor or Best Supporting Actress category for the Emmys.
“I’d like to know if in your eyes ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ denote anatomy or identity and why it is necessary to denote either in the first place?” they asked.
The Academy replied to Dillon’s letter, explaining that an actor can submit themselves to whatever category they choose without question. However, it didn’t answer why these binary gender distinctions exist in the first place. Perhaps the introduction of more gender-neutral categories is the only way to draw attention to the fact that Hollywood tends to favor white men.
“I hope people look to the MTV Movie & TV Awards and see that it’s possible,” Moore said. “We don’t have to focus on just men and women, we can combine us all into one. Let our work speak for itself and stand for itself.”
Be sure to tune in to the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday, May 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. And check MTV News for all your updates on the big show.