Sam Mendes says gender neutral awards are “perfectly reasonable”

The 'Skyfall' director believes a shift towards the format is "inevitable"

Skyfall director Sam Mendes says he believes that gender neutral awards are “inevitable” and “perfectly reasonable”.

There has been a keen debate in the arts world about gender neutral awards categories in the last few years. The BRITs removed gendered categories for the first time last year, while the Grammys have been gender neutral since 2012.

Currently, only a few film awards have introduced gender neutral categories for actors, including the British Independent Film Awards, the Berlin Film Festival, the Gotham Awards and most recently the Independent Spirit Awards.


In an interview with the BBC, Mendes said he has “total sympathy” with calls for the change, saying: “I think it might well be inevitable in the end. I think that’s the way it’s moving and I think that it’s perfectly reasonable.”

Discussing the purpose of awards shows, he added: “For me, people forget with awards, I think this happens all the time, they use it as a bellwether for the industry but the truth is awards are a TV show.”

“You know, awards are there to promote films. If that film wins an award, I’m more likely to go and see it and that’s what you’re doing there. It’s not about yourself, it’s not about the art or craft of the industry, especially, it’s about selling films.”

Sam Mendes
Sam Mendes. CREDIT: Mike Marsland/WireImage

One high-profile campaigner for gender-neutral awards is The Crown star Emma Corrin, who recently said they “hope for a future” where the best actor and best actress awards at major ceremonies are merged into a single category.

Speaking to BBC News, the star, who added they/them pronouns to their Instagram bio earlier this year, argued that the categories aren’t inclusive enough “at the moment”. “It’s about everyone being able to feel acknowledged and represented,” they said.


“It’s difficult for me at the moment trying to justify in my head being non-binary and being nominated in female categories,” Corrin added. They won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy for their performance as the young Princess Diana in season four of The Crown.

Elsewhere, Mendes also recently said he thinks a woman should direct the next James Bond film. The filmmaker discussed the future of the 007 franchise after producer Barbara Broccoli had said the next actor to play James Bond would be male.

“I don’t envy Barbara having to follow Daniel’s [Craig] five movies,” Mendes began. “He reinvigorated the franchise but the franchise is so huge that it’s very difficult for a younger actor to step into that.”

Referring to the director specifically, the filmmaker added: “I think that the actor playing Bond is going to evolve, the director has to evolve. I think it would be wonderful to see a woman directing Bond. I think it would be wonderful.”

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