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Gender-Fluid Actor Kelly Mantle Makes Oscar History

Variety logo Variety 10/12/2016 Kristopher Tapley

Opening Friday in limited release for an Oscar-qualifying run is “Confessions of a Womanizer,” directed by Miguel Ali. The small indie film is the longest of shots for Academy consideration, but that’s not stopping it from making history.

Kelly Mantle © Araya Diaz/WireImage/Getty Image Kelly Mantle In submitting eligibility materials to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the film’s producers sought both supporting actor and supporting actress consideration for gender-fluid actor Kelly Mantle. The Academy granted the request, setting a historic precedent.

Gender-fluid and trans characters have been represented by Oscar-nominated actors such as John Lithgow (“The World According to Garp”), Hillary Swank (“Boys Don’t Cry”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”). There is one instance, meanwhile, of an Oscar nomination for a gender-swapping role: Linda Hunt in fact won the supporting actress prize for playing a male dwarf in 1982’s “The Year of Living Dangerously.”

© Provided by Variety But Mantle, known for appearing as a contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” is marking his own milestone. He is the first person to be submitted and eligible for nomination in both male and female acting categories.

The Actors Branch approved dividing the Acting reminder list into Actors and Actresses two years ago. Prior to that, the reminder lists made no distinction by gender; all eligible cast members were listed together.

“Confessions of a Womanizer” tells the story of the arrogant, fraternizing Richie (Andrew Lawrence) who strikes up a friendship with Ginger (Mantle), a transgender prostitute. It has won awards from events including the High Desert, Los Angeles Underground and Tupelo film festivals.

The film also stars Gary Busey, WWE superstars Brie and Nikki Bella, Jillian Rose Reed, C. Thomas Howell and Andrew Lawrence. It begins its qualifying run today at Laemmle NoHo Theatres in North Hollywood.

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