REPORT: Daytime Emmys to create gender-neutral category for Outstanding Younger Actor and Actress; also combining network series and digital series
Posted Monday, August 12, 2019 9:17:18 AM
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The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is said to be considering combining the Outstanding Younger Actress and Outstanding Younger Actor awards into one gender-neutral category, as well as combining network series and digital series into the category. NATAS president and CEO Adam Sharp opens up about the groundbreaking future of the Daytime Emmy Awards.

As the notion of whether or not award shows should eliminate gender-specific acting categories sweeps across the entertainment sphere, the Daytime Emmy Awards are rumored to be implementing changes to its Outstanding Younger Actress and Outstanding Younger Actor awards. According to Variety, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) is considering combining the two acting categories into one gender-neutral group beginning in 2020.

The young performer categories have experienced quite a few changes since their debut at the 1985 Daytime Emmy Awards, where Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren Fenmore, The Young and the Restless) and Brian Bloom (Dusty Donovan, As the World Turns) were the inaugural winners. The categories were originally named Outstanding Ingenue and Outstanding Young Man, then became Outstanding Juvenile Female and Outstanding Juvenile Male, and eventually were renamed Outstanding Younger Actress and Younger Actor. In 2012, the criteria for the two categories was tweaked, requiring that the nominated performer be aged twenty-five or younger.

In addition to combining the Outstanding Younger Actress and Outstanding Younger Actor awards into one gender-neutral category, NATAS is also expected to announce that the possible new category will include performers from both broadcast dramas and digital series. This would be the first step toward the ceremony combining all programming, no matter where it is broadcast.

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Soap Central spoke with NATAS president and CEO Adam Sharp during this year's Daytime Emmy Awards, and he said that combining broadcast dramas and digital series is "a natural future" for the annual competition.

"The genres are definitely getting much, much closer," he opined. "I think initially, they were kept separate because the digitals were still just starting out. There's a big production value and you [thought, 'How is this person on YouTube going to compete?'] But now when you look at the quality of some of these shows, like The Bay, like Giants, like Anacostia and so on, you see these can go right up against the broadcast dramas. Even in primetime, not just daytime. I think you will see some shuffling in the years to come."

However, Sharp thinks that the non-differentiation between network and digital series in all categories will happen sooner rather than later.

"In a couple years everything is going to be digital show," he points out. "Even if you look at the four broadcast dramas, it is probably only a matter of years -- and not too many years -- before General Hospital might have more viewers on Disney Plus than on the ABC Network or The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful have more viewers on [CBS] All Access than the broadcast network. And so in many ways, the industry is doing that merge for us."

The consideration of the gender-neutral category change was discussed at an Academy advisory meeting last week. According to Sharp, no final consensus was reached in the room. Final decisions on categories and criteria will be announced when the call for the next Daytime Emmy entries go out in the fall.

What do you think about the Daytime Emmy Awards potentially combining the Outstanding Younger Actress and Outstanding Younger Actor awards into one gender-neutral category? What are your thoughts on network series and digital series sharing the same categories? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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