In a declaration of acceptance and support for gender fluidity, an 11-year-old actor will be considered for two B.C. Leo awards in the acting categories of male performance and female performance of the year.
In the short film Limina, Ameko Eks Mass Carroll took on the lead role of a gender-fluid protagonist called Alessandra.
It’s a character the young actor could relate to. On some days, Carroll identifies as a boy and other days as a girl. On some days, he identifies as neither, but uses male pronouns.
“The courage that I got being on the set of Limina showed me that I should always feel confident the way I am and that I should not hide the truth,” said Carroll in a statement. “I would love to give the Leo Awards a ginormous thanks for making people under the trans umbrella feel more welcomed in the world.”
As well as the filmmakers behind Limina, Carroll has full family support.
“Ameko feels that being accepted in both categories is the next step towards letting people know how he feels confined by gender binary categories,” said the actor’s mother, Amber Carroll. “Ameko finds the separation of boys and girls to be very frustrating, not only in the field of acting but also when it comes to sports and recreational activities.”
Carroll was enrolled in a drama program at the age of two and has numerous stage, film and television credits to his name, including the Search for Santa Paws.
The filmmakers submitted Carroll’s performance into both male and female performance categories, and the Leo Awards, a project of the Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences Foundation of B.C., opened new territory in the Canadian film and television industry by accepting both nominations.
Directed and produced by Vancouver-based filmmakers Florian Halbedl and Joshua M. Ferguson, Limina was completed in December and premieres at the Portland Kid’s Film Festival on Feb. 5.
“As a non-binary filmmaker, it is especially encouraging that the Leo Awards is acknowledging gender-fluid performers by making history with this decision,” said Ferguson, who identifies as a non-binary trans person.
“This is a clear statement to the Canadian film and TV industry and the general public in recognizing the importance of gender diversity inclusivity.
"Trans people make significant contributions both behind and in front of the camera and they need to be seen and heard. It is an affirming moment for trans youth and adults, especially younger performers entering into the industry unaware of how they will fit with their non-binary identity.
“The Leos are now at the forefront in an industry that should always strive for representing diversity. Hopefully this decision will open up the important conversation at union levels, other awards, organizations and granting agencies across the country to strive for inclusivity in the industry when it comes to trans people and diversity. We have been moved by the support from notable actors and producers including, Isabella Rossellini, Lana Parrilla, Jim Michaels, amongst others.”
Last year, Kelly Mantle became the first performer to be submitted into both male and female performance categories at the Academy Awards.