Mandy Moore Is ‘Thrilled’ MTV Is ‘Breaking The Mold’ With Gender-Neutral Awards

Moore is one of six actors nominated for MTV’s new gender-neutral category, Best Actor in a Show, at the Movie & TV Awards

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.

For nominee Mandy Moore, MTV's decision to eliminate the gender-specific acting categories is a chance to "let the work stand for itself."

"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 [of] that ilk is above and beyond."

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Best Actor in a Show

Best Actor in a Show nominees Donald Glover, Millie Bobby Brown, and Moore.

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 show has always been irreverent — dating back to the first ceremony in 1992 — but this year felt different. Producers sensed 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. "[Young viewers] 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 viewer, get to decide which performers deserve the Golden Popcorn. But for shows like the Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes, it's industry professionals that make up the all-powerful voting bodies that 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 be the ones to ensure that a diverse array of performers 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 and uses the pronoun "they," wrote a letter to the Television Academy after they were unsure whether to submit her in the Best Supporting Actor or Best Supporting Actress category for the Emmys.

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Asia Kate Dillon

Actor Asia Kate Dillon at the premiere of Billions.

In the correspondence they asked: "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?"

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 gender-binary 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 of transitioning to gender-free categories. "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.

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