Daytime Emmys Considers Merging Younger Actress, Actor Awards Into One Gender Neutral-Category

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which hands out the Primetime Emmy Awards for excellence in television, is reportedly considering merging the Outstanding Younger Actress and Actor categories. It will be the second gender-neutral acting award, following the academy's guest performer award.

According to Variety, the merging was discussed during an academy advisory meeting Thursday night. NATAS CEO Adam Sharp said there was no consensus. The final decision will likely not be made until the next Daytime Emmy entries come in during the fall.

The younger actor and younger actress awards go to stars 25 and younger. The categories were introduced in 1985 when there were far more soap operas on television. Today, there are only four major network soaps on air, so the categories now find co-stars competing against each other.

During the 2019 Daytime Emmys, Days of Our Lives star Kyler Pettis won the Outstanding Younger Actor award, beating out co-star Lucas Adams. The other nominees were General Hospital stars William Lipton and Garrett Stitt and The Young and the Restless star Zach Tinker.

On the Younger Actress side, three General Hospital stars - Chloe Lanier, Eden McCoy and Hayley Erin - were nominated, with Erin winning. The other nominees were Oliva Rose Keegan and Victoria Konefal, who both star on Days of Our Lives.

The only other gender-neutral acting award at the Daytime Emmys is Outstanding Special Guest Performer in a Drama Series, which has only been regularly presented since 2015.

The TV Academy's consideration of another gender-neutral award comes as the topic of gender-inclusive categories continues to increase. MTV recently dropped gender-specific awards for the Movie & TV Awards and Video Music Awards. The Television Critics Association now only gives out two acting awards, Individual Achievement in Drama and Individual Achievement in Comedy.

MTV switched to gender-neutral acting awards back in 2017. At the time, MTV, VH1 and Logo general manager Amy Doyle called it a "cultural statement."

"It really was a cultural statement. And it really is reflective about the audience's views and when you look at the culture as a whole, you had a man against a woman running for president [last year]," Doyle told The Hollywood Reporter. "It just felt like a dated construct for a category."

During the 2017 MTV ceremony, Emma Watson, Millie Bobby Brown and Lil Rel Howery won the first gender-neutral acting awards.

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The 2020 Daytime Emmy Awards will take place in May 2020.

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