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Ayo Edebiri took home the prize for best supporting performance in a new scripted series at the Independent Spirit Awards for her role in The Bear.
“I didn’t really prepare any remarks and my manager gave me a piece of paper,” Edebiri began her acceptance speech. “I just want to say, I’m really grateful. Yeah, this is really nice and very cool.”
She went on to say it was important for her to see a room — er, tent — full of people who look like and feel like her.
“I grew up, and there weren’t people who looked like me or felt like me,” Edebiri continued. “This is really nice because I’m in a room full of a lot of people, who I really admire and looked up to, but there’s also a lot of people who look like me and feel like me, and that’s really nice.”
The 2023 Spirit Awards marked the first year of the Film Independent’s switch to gender-neutral categories for acting, which resulted in the nominees in each category vying for the trophy alongside nine other people, instead of five.
Edebiri competed against Danielle Deadwyler (Station Eleven), Jeff Hiller (Somebody Somewhere), Gbemisola Ikumelo (A League of Their Own), Janelle James (Abbott Elementary), Ebon Moss-Bachrach (The Bear), Frankie Quiñones (This Fool), Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary), Molly Shannon (I Love That For You) and Tramell Tillman (Severance).
Film Independent’s decision to create gender-neutral categories follows similar moves from the Gotham Awards and MTV Movie & TV Awards, among other awards organizations, in recent years.
“We’re thrilled to join the other festivals and award shows that are already moving to celebrate great acting without reference to gender,” the organization’s president Josh Welsh said about the news in August. “We’re also happy to welcome non-binary performers into the Spirit Awards without forcing them to choose to identify as male or female.”
The Independent Spirit Awards are airing live on IMDb, as well as across Film Independent’s various social platforms, its YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook.
Check out the Spirit Awards’ star-studded red carpet arrivals here.
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