Lucille Lortel Awards: Gender-Neutral Performance Categories

The four new categories for best leading and supporting performances in a musical will debut during the 2022 ceremony alongside the newly created outstanding ensemble category.


Off-Broadway’s awards show is officially removing gender distinctions from its acting categories.

The Lucille Lortel Awards announced on Thursday that going forward, the annual ceremony honoring outstanding achievement off-Broadway, will no longer feature best actor or best actress honors. Instead, it will recognize each season’s best performers.

The four categories replacing the leading and supporting actor and actress awards will be outstanding lead performer in a musical, outstanding supporting performer in a musical, outstanding lead performer in a play and outstanding supporting performer in a play.

The awards event — which is annually produced by the Off-Broadway League and the Lucille Lortel Theatre — will now honor the work of entire show casts with its newly created outstanding ensemble category, set to debut during the 2022 ceremony.

“Off-Broadway has always sought to be a shining example of diversity and inclusivity,” Casey York, president of the Off-Broadway League, said in a statement.

“As the world around us — and specifically in New York City’s theatre scene — continues to evolve, it’s important for Off-Broadway to lead the way in acknowledging and celebrating artistic excellence in a more inclusive way. We want to truly recognize the many talented performers in our community.”

“We are dedicated to seeing and acknowledging all the members of our Off-Broadway family as we continue to learn and grow and look towards the future of the Lucille Lortel Awards,” George Forbes, executive director of the Lucille Lortel Theatre, followed up in his own statement.

The new categories will go into effect during the upcoming 37th annual awards show, which is slated to take place on May 1, 2022. Nominations will be announced in early April.

The move follows the Gotham Awards, which announced in August, to pivot away from gendered acting honors and instead award performances through gender-neutral categories. Other award shows that have adopted non-gendered awarding categories include the MTV Movie and TV Awards in 2017 and the Grammys in 2012.

Gendered performance categories remain for Broadway’s biggest awards show, the Tonys, as well as film and TV’s biggest honors: the Golden Globes, Emmys and Oscars.