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.
The role in question is Mantle's portrayal of transgender prostitute Ginger in "Confessions of a Womanizer." The film, directed by Miguel Ali, centers on a womanizer 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.
According to The Wrap, the producers of the film submitted Mantle, who is gender-fluid and uses masculine pronouns, in both male and female categories when the paperwork for Oscar submissions required the actor be classified by gender.
According to the filmmakers, the Academy granted their request, and the former "RuPaul's Drag Race" contestant is eligible for either the Supporting Actor or Supporting Actress category.
"Confessions of a Womanizer" made its premiere in March of 2014 before hitting the film festival circuit and winning several awards. The film's theatrical run began on October 14.
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, genderqueer activist Jacob Tobia said the entertainment industry needs to take it a step further.
"The fact that the Academy forces performers to be nominated on the basis of gender is an outdated tradition that we need to do away with.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."