Joanna Lumley says gender-neutral awards could hurt women’s chances of winning

‘Absolutely Fabulous’ star described the concept as ‘a bit weird’

Louis Chilton
Friday 17 February 2023 11:49 GMT
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Sam Mendes says gender-neutral Oscars are inevitable

Joanna Lumley has criticised the prospect of gender-neutral awards in the entertainment industry.

In recent years, awards bodies have faced criticism for segregating some awards into gender categories, such as the Best Actor and Best Actress catagories at the Oscars.

The practice is considered outdated by some in the industry, and critics have pointed out the system forces nonbinary actors to compete within a gender catagory that is not their own.

Some ceremonies, including the Brit Awards, have abandoned gendered awards catagories entirely, while Bafta has said it is taking the issue under consideration.

Speaking on TalkTV, Lumley appeared critical of gender-neutral awards, however, describing it as “a bit weird”.

“I know that if my name was just put up as best actor against lots of men, I wouldn’t have a chance. But as best actress, you might,” said the Absolutely Fabulous star (per Deadline).

This year’s Brit Awards was criticised for featuring an all-male list of nominees in its Artist of the Year catagory.

Lumley also criticised the awards process in general, saying: “When I read about the Oscars, and I realized that to get even onto a list to be part of the shortlist, you have to go around lobbying people and promising things, and having lunch.

Joanna Lumley pictured in 2019
Joanna Lumley pictured in 2019 (Getty Images)

“These are the stars who are up for it. You have to go, as it were, tarting around to get people in favour, I’m not sure about it.”

Despite Lumley’s reservations, figures such as 1917 filmmaker Sam Mendes have described the shift towards a gender-neutral awards system across the board as “inevitable”.

Speaking about the lack of female nominees among the Brits’ recent Artist of the Year line-up, artist Sam Smith said last month: “It’s a shame.

“Things are moving forward, but it’s obvious it’s not there yet. From seeing that [Best Artist] list, there is still a long way to go.”

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