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SAG Awards Will Not Eliminate Gender-Specific Categories in 2021, Asia Kate Dillon Turns Down Invitation to Join Nominating Committee

SAG Awards Will Not Eliminate Gender-Specific Categories in 2021, Asia Kate Dillon Turns Down Invitation to Join Nominating Committee

The SAG Awards will not eliminate gender-specific categories at the upcoming 2021 awards show and the SAG Awards Committee has responded to Billions star Asia Kate Dillon‘s open letter.

Dillon said that the categories at the awards show “erase non-binary identities by limiting performers to identifying as male or female / man or womxn,” and “serve as an endorsement of the gender binary at large.”

The SAG Awards Committee has invited Dillon to join a larger discussion on the issue in the future, but they said it’s not possible to make changes for the upcoming ceremony. They said that one, non gender-specific category “raises significant concerns in terms of gender parity as well as racial and ethnic diversity.”

In a response to the committee’s letter, published by Variety, Dillon challenged this assertion and said that the SAG Awards have not been historically diverse.

The committee also offered Dillon a space on the award show’s nominating committee, but the invitation was turned down.

There’s an awards show that Asia Kate is very supportive of after they made a big change.

Click inside to read the full letters from both parties…

Letter from SAG Awards Committee to Asia Kate Dillon

Asia Kate,

SAG-AFTRA and the SAG Awards have a long history of championing communities that lack representation within our industry. We continue to strive to be as inclusive as possible and the work is by no means done.

The suggestion to go to one category raises significant concerns in terms of gender parity as well as racial and ethnic diversity. However, this is a larger conversation we are continuing to explore, and we’ll be reaching out to you for a discussion with the SAG Awards.

As you know, our nominating committee has been selected and notified and the 27th SAG Awards season is underway. We would welcome your participation on the Nominating Committee, however, we respect your position should you choose to decline this year.

Cordially.

SAG Awards Committee

Response from Asia Kate Dillon to SAG Awards Committee

Dear Kathy and the SAG Awards Committee:

Thank you for your response. I’m glad to hear that you strive to be as inclusive as possible and that you agree the work is by no means done. I am also heartened by your acknowledgement that this is a larger conversation you’re willing to have. I share your significant concern for “gender parity as well as racial and ethnic diversity” at the SAG Awards. My initial letter was inspired by those concerns, and I am disappointed to learn that you are not prepared to make changes for the upcoming 27th SAG Awards, slated for January 24, 2021.

Given our mutual concern for gender parity, I would hope we might also share a goal of creating acting categories that are inclusive of all sexes and genders identities. There are at least 64 known gender identities and at least five known biological sexes.* Whether you are using the words in reference to assigned sex at birth or to gender identity, dividing your acting categories into female and male is, while well-intentioned, exclusionary and therefore discriminatory. Not all 160,000 SAG members identify as female or male, and there is not now, nor has there ever been, a way to acknowledge these performers at the SAG Awards.

Now on to racial and ethnic diversity. To be honest, I struggle to understand how having female and male acting categories has done anything to ensure racial and ethnic diversity. As the charts below demonstrate, since their inception in 1995, the SAG Awards’ nominees for all individual acting awards have been 88% white, while only 12% of nominees have been BIPOC. BIPOC women have fared worse than BIPOC men. Yes, the overall trend has been toward increased diversity, yet the reality is that the SAG Awards remain overwhelmingly white.

I don’t have all of the answers; all I can do is expose the problems and commit to working toward their solutions. I continue to believe that abolishing gendered acting categories, in tandem with putting in place new regulations to ensure a significant increase of BIPOC nominees, is a key part of the solution.** Ultimately, this will guarantee recognition of a much broader swath of work created by BIPOC of varying sexes and gender identities.

In closing, I decline participation as a judge of the acting categories in their current exclusionary form, but I look forward to our continued conversation.

In Love and Solidarity,

Asia Kate Dillon

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Photos: Getty
Posted to: 2021 SAG Awards, Asia Kate Dillon, SAG Awards

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