Actor Kelly Mantle is making Academy Awards history this year. The gender-fluid performer is eligible for Oscar nominations in both male and female categories, which is a first for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In submitting eligibility materials to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the film’s producers sought both supporting actor and supporting actress consideration for Mantle. The Academy granted the request, setting a historic precedent.
The role in question for Mantle, who identifies as "gender fluid," is of a transgender prostitute Ginger in "Confessions of a Womanizer." The indie film, directed by Miguel Ali, centres on a womaniser named Richie (Andrew Lawrence), who finally finds a real relationship with Megan (Jillian Rose Reed) after jumping from woman to woman. Mantle's character, Ginger, is Richie's best friend.
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Upon hearing the news of Mantle’s eligibility to be nominated in both categories, the movie’s director wrote on "Confession’s" Facebook page: "This is in recognition of [Kelly’s] androgynous identity. Of course — I hope we get Kelly nominated Regardless, we are bringing spotlight to our androgynous and transgendered community. I’m grateful for the path that has already been carved by transgender/androgynous-empowering Oscar-contending films like ‘Tangerine’ and others."
Mantle tweeted, "So this is happening... Honoured and humbled to be considered."
The Academy's decision not only means Mantle could be nominated in either category, but it may open up the option for future gender-nonconforming talent.
While Mantle's eligibility is considered by many to be a step forward, gender-queer activist Jacob Tobia said the entertainment industry needs to take it a step further.
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"The fact that the Academy forces performers to be nominated on the basis of gender is an outdated tradition that we need to do away with. While it's great that the Academy is allowing Kelly Mantle to choose which category they'd like to be nominated, ultimately Kelly shouldn't have to make a choice. Oscar categories, as well as all other major awards, like Grammys and Emmys, should not be gender specific."
This article originally appeared on IB Times.
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