Emmys And Diversity: Strides For People Of Color In Major Acting Categories; Huge Win For Black Actors And LGBTQ Representation

In 2020 there was an uptick in Emmy nominees from historically marginalized communities compared with 2019 — mainly with Black actors and performers. In fact, Emmy nominations for Black performers set a record this year and, in turn, there was a record number of trophies given to Black performers. And when it comes to LGBTQ representation, Schitt’s Creek waved the rainbow flag proudly with nine wins total and made history by sweeping the comedy categories.

On the acting side, there were more than 30 people of color nominated, while actors who have openly identified as members of the LGBTQ+ community took in nearly a dozen nominations. On the hosting side, six people of color were nominated while seven people who identified as LGBTQ+ received nods.

First, let’s unpack the wins for actors of color in the acting and hosting categories.

During the Creative Arts Emmys, there was a strong showing of inclusive winners. Comedy legend Eddie Murphy scored his first Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his hosting gig on Saturday Night Live. That same Murphy-hosted episode of SNL earned Maya Rudolph an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her turn as Kamala Harris. The actress also scored another trophy for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for her role as Connie the Hormone Monstress on Netflix’s Big Mouth. It marked the first two Emmys for Rudolph.

RuPaul made history snatching his fifth consecutive win for hosting RuPaul’s Drag Race. His win breaks the record for the most host wins. Meanwhile, Ron Cephas Jones won his second Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for This Is Us. It’s his fourth nomination for his role as William Hill in the NBC drama. The actor also made history with his daughter Jasmine Cephas Jones, who won the Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for her role in Quibi’s #FreeRayshawn. The duo is the first father-daughter pair to win Emmys in the same year.

Speaking of #FreeRayshawn, Laurence Fishburne also scored an Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series his role as Lt. Steven Poincy.

Anthony Anderson’s Powerful Emmy Speech: “Black Stories, Black Performance And Black Lives Matter”

When it comes to winners who openly identify as members of the LGBTQ community, Cherry Jones won her second Emmy in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Succession. She was honored last year for her role in The Handmaid’s Tale.

As for the major acting categories presented Sunday night, actors of color who took home Emmys included Zendaya, who made history as the youngest actress to win Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. Watchmen‘s Regina King won her fourth Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II also won for Watchmen, taking the trophy for Supporting Actor. Uzo Aduba scored an Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie for her turn as Shirley Chisholm in Mrs. America. As far as actors of color go, the winners for major categories stopped there.

This is an improvement from last year’s list of actors of color who won Emmys, which included RuPaul for RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jharrel Jerome for When They See Us and Billy Porter for Pose. That said, though there were plenty of great nominees of color including Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Ramy Youssef, Anthony Anderson, Don Cheadle, Mahershala Ali, William Jackson Harper, Sandra Oh, Yvonne Orji, Jeremy Pope and practically every male cast member of Watchmen, there was plenty of diversity. Winners were another story.

The comedy categories were dominated by Schitt’s Creek with Dan Levy, who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, leading the charge. He won for Supporting Actor in a Comedy as well as trophies for writing and directing, marking a gigantic win for LGBTQ narratives on TV. The series included a queer storyline that was void of homophobia and bigotry.

As the era of inclusivity, diversity and authentic representation continues to strengthen, tonight’s Emmy ceremony took some steps forward when it came to LGBTQ representation but only a couple of baby steps for actors of color. Besides Oh, there was no Asian representation in other acting categories. However, it was a huge win to have Ramy be the first Muslim American comedy to be nominated for an Emmy.

On the flip side, Latinx, disabled representation and other actors from historically underrepresented communities were non-existent — not to mention the lack of intersectional representation.

That said, with all that is happening in the world and the current state of the industry, one could only guess how diverse next year’s Emmys might be.

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