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ACTRA Manitoba Awards move to non-gendered categories

A red-carpet awards ceremony, unofficially called "the Oscars of the Prairies," will honour Manitoba actors for their outstanding performances on the big and little screen in Winnipeg this weekend.

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) is set to host its sixth biannual awards ceremony at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on Saturday.

To celebrate the contributions Manitobans make to the province's film industry, awards will be handed out to actors for their outstanding performances in film and television.

"We always make our members feel as special as they can," Shannon Guile, event co-ordinator for the awards and a member of ACTRA, told guest host Marjorie Dowhos in a Thursday interview with CBC's Up to Speed.

The awards cover short films, series, stunts and feature films.

After consulting with its members and the community, ACTRA has made one change to its awards for this year.

"What we came up with was this genderless award system, where we're going to give out numerous awards per category," said Guile.

Giving single awards in gendered "outstanding female performance" and "outstanding male performance" categories felt unfair, she said, and the new award system is a way to acknowledge as many Manitobans as possible.

Guile hopes the new change helps Manitobans reflect on gender in acting.

"Things are changing. It's 2022," she said. "I really hope that people can take a step back and see that it's not about the [performer's] gender or even the gender of the role, because we're all performing."

Skye Pelletier is among the performers up for awards on Saturday. He has appeared in the TV show Acting Good and the Disney film Prey, which were both released this year.

He's up for outstanding performance in a short for his role in the short film Shoot Your Shot.

The 19-year-old says his family is very supportive of his acting career, which he says wouldn't have happened without his grandma.

"She just kept on pushing me and pushing me, even when I wanted to stop," he told host Faith Fundal in a Friday interview with Up to Speed.

The Long Plain First Nation performer says he grew up not seeing kids who looked like him on TV or in the movies. He got bit by the acting bug when he first performed on stage, and now wants to be part of the change to bring Indigenous people to film work.


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