Australian screen actor Zoe Terakes has made history, becoming the first non-binary actor tin consideration for an AACTA award in the category of Lead Actor in a Feature Film.

Terakes is being considered for their role in Ellie And Abbie (& Abbie’s Dead Aunt) which premiered as the opening night film at last year’s Mardi Gras Queer Screen Film Festival.

Directed and written by Monica Zanetti, Terakes plays the role of Abbie, the love interest of Year 12 student and school captain Ellie (Sophie Hawkshaw). As the first Australian feature film to open the festival in 27 years, it went on to a nationwide release in November last year.

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After coming out as non-binary at the age 19, Terakes’ screen credits include the recently released Nicole Kidman led eight-part series Nine Perfect Strangers and Wentworth, in which they played trans character Rebecca ‘Reb’ Keane.

‘I’m an actor, not an actress’

“I’m not a woman, but I also don’t feel entirely like a man,” Terakes told If.

Pointing to the Aria Music awards, which recently scrapped gendered awards categories, Terakes  said, “I’m a boy human. A human boy. And so, until there is an awards system that accommodates for genderqueer/trans folks, we’re gonna have to make the system work for us.”

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While there had been other non-binary entrants and nominees in the past, AACTA said via a statement that Terakes has become the first non-binary actor to have engaged them in conversation and “exercised their right to choose which award suited them”.

“I’m an actor, not an actress. I definitely feel more aligned with “male” identifiers. And I don’t want to be nominated for the gender of the character I’m playing,” Terakes explained.

Push For More Inclusive Awards

 

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“So, listen It’s all a bit confusing and feels a bit, to quote Missy Higgins, ‘triangle trying to squeeze through a circle’ but until we de-gender awards ceremonies altogether, I’ll be up for nomination in the category that most aligns with my gender; best male actor.”

Elsewhere in the world, a push for more inclusive award ceremonies is fast gaining traction. In June this year, The Television Academy’s Board of Governors confirmed they had approved a pair of rule changes for the Emmy Awards.

These changes allowed anyone nominated in an actor or actress category the option to “request that their nomination certificate and Emmy statuette carry the term ‘Performer’ in place of Actor or Actress.”

 

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