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Daytime Emmys Considers Merging Younger Actor and Actress Categories Into One

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is dipping its toe in the debate over whether to eliminate gender-specific acting categories. The org is discussing the possibility that the Daytime Emmy Awards will combine its outstanding younger actor and actress categories into one. (An earlier version of this story had said the decision had already been made.)

The org already has a guest performer category that combines both genders. Now, the Daytime Emmys is looking at single young performer category, open to all. As part of the change, the newly merged category would also combine broadcast drama and digital drama performers in the same category.

The categories for younger actor in a drama series and younger actress in a drama series were first presented in 1985. Of course, back then there were many more daytime soap operas in production. With just four major network soaps remaining, it may make sense to combine the younger performer categories into one.

The consideration of this change was discussed at an Academy advisory meeting last night. No final consensus was reached in the room, according to NATAS CEO Adam Sharp. Final decisions on categories and criteria will be announced when the call for the next Daytime Emmy entries go out in the fall.

In the past, the Daytime Emmy awards for younger actor and younger actress in a drama series have recognized the work of the performers age 25 and under. This year’s winners in the categories were Hayley Erin (“General Hospital”) for younger actress in a drama series, and Kyler Pettis (“Days of Our Lives”) for younger actor in a drama series.

NATAS’ discussion comes as the conversation continues over gender-inclusive categories, and whether they still make sense for awards shows. MTV dropped gender-specific categories for its Movie & TV Awards and Video Music Awards shows, while the Television Critics Assn. combines its acting categories into just two: individual achievement in drama and individual achievement in comedy.

The subject has also been discussed in the past in the context of the Emmys. Two years ago, “Billions” star Asia Kate Dillon, the first gender nonbinary performer to play a nonbinary character on a major TV show, asked the Los Angeles-based Television Academy, which administers the Primetime Emmys, to clarify its gender distinctions.

“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?” Dillon wrote in a letter to the org.

[Pictured: Hayley Erin accepts her award at the 46th Daytime Emmys.]

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