‘Not an easy decision’: Non-binary actor Zoe Terakes opens up


zoe terakes ellie and abbie non-binary gender aacta awards wentworth
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Non-binary Australian actor Zoe Terakes has opened up about deciding which award category to enter into at the next AACTA Awards, Australia’s annual film awards, for their work on screen last year.

Terakes (pictured) is in consideration for Best Lead Actor in a Feature Film for the queer romantic comedy Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt).

In filmmaker Monica Zanetti’s movie, they played Abbie, the love interest of Year 12 student Ellie (Sophie Hawkshaw).

Ellie & Abbie opened the Mardi Gras Film Festival last year and later screened in Australian theatres.

Each year, members of Australia’s film industry vote on the AACTA award entrants before AACTA officially announces the nominees.

In a statement, AACTA explained Zoe Terakes is the first non-binary star to engage them in conversation to choose which award suited them.

AACTA also believes Terakes is the first person to enter a gendered award for a role portraying a different gender character.

Terakes, who has also appeared in Wentworth and Nine Perfect Strangers, explained it was “not an easy decision”.

“I’m not a woman, but I also don’t feel entirely like a man,” they said.

“I’m a boy human. A human boy. And so, until there is an awards system that accommodates for genderqueer/trans folks, we’re going to have to make the system work for us.

“I’m an actor, not an actress. I definitely feel more aligned with ‘male’ identifiers.

“And I don’t want to be nominated for the gender of the character I’m playing. Yes, ‘Abbie’ in the film is female.

“But Eddie Redmayne wasn’t nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars when he did The Danish Girl.

“So, it’s all a bit confusing and feels a bit, to quote Missy Higgins, ‘triangle trying to squeeze through a circle’.

“But until we de-gender awards ceremonies altogether, I’ll be up for nomination in the category that most aligns with my gender; best male actor.”

Ellie & Abbie is available to buy and rent digitally and is streaming on-demand in Australia on Foxtel.

The 2021 AACTA Award winners will be announced later in the year.

Zoe Terakes played trans character in Wentworth

In 2019, Zoe Terakes joined Foxtel’s prison drama Wentworth. The actor played Rebel ‘Reb’ Keane, a trans man fleeing an abusive cult who subsequently struggles inside the women’s prison.

Earlier this year, the Australian Recording Industry Association announced the removal of gender-based categories at this year’s ARIA awards.

ARIA replaced the Best Male Artist and Best Female Artist gongs with an award for Best Artist.

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