The Television Academy continues to break glass ceilings and with this year’s Emmy nominations has set a new record in recognizing the work of performers from diverse backgrounds. Last year counted 27 diversity nominees in the acting categories across drama, comedy and limited series/movie, and this year that figure shoots up to a record 36. If you count reality TV hosts, that number moves up to a cool 38 versus 30 nominees last July.
The explosion of streaming and the further dominance of cable have created an abundance of opportunities for performers on television in ways that they did not three decades ago with content limited to the Big Four networks and cable in its infancy.
Some notable achievements today:
Sandra Oh became the first Asian nominated in the lead actress drama series category, scoring her sixth acting Emmy nomination and her first in the lead actress slot for playing a burgeoning I-5 operative who is tailing a brutal European assassin in BBC America’s Killing Eve. Her previous five noms were for her supporting turn as Cristina Yang on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.
Donald Glover counts five noms today, raising his career nom total to nine. Last year he won best actor in a comedy series for Atlanta and he became the first black man to win an Emmy for directing a comedy series. This year, he is nominated for a second time in lead actor comedy for Atlanta, as well as directing, writing and executive producing the FX series. He was also nominated as a guest actor in a comedy series for his hosting duties on Saturday Night Live, in which he played his Solo role Lando Calrissian presiding over the first black summit for all galactic people (only four people showed up in the sketch).
Sterling K. Brown made history at last year’s ceremony becoming the first black man in close to 20 years to win an Emmy in the lead actor drama category for This Is Us. Not only is Brown up again in the category for the NBC drama series, but he’s also been recognized for his guest actor comedy turn as Philip Davidson in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
After being on Saturday Night Live for 15 years, Kenan Thompson finally relished his first best supporting comedy actor nomination for his array of personalities on the late-night NBC variety show. Technically its his second Emmy nom for his work on SNL: He was nominated last year in the original music and lyrics slot for co-penning the song “Last Christmas” in an episode hosted by Casey Affleck.
Another first today: Girls Trip superstar Tiffany Haddish landed her first Emmy nom, in the guest actress comedy category for hosting SNL. Ditto for Black Panther star Letitia Wright, who was honored for playing Nish on Black Mirror in the supporting actress limited series slot.
With her guest drama actress turn as Ophelia Harkness in How to Get Away With Murder landing a third Emmy nomination for the ABC series today, Cicely Tyson now counts 14 career Emmy noms. A win would be nice this year considering the last time she won was her first time out of the gate, in 1974 for CBS’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, for which she won the lead actress drama trophy and a special award for playing the title role in a series about a black woman who is born into slavery and becomes part of the Civil Rights 1960s movement.
This year’s 38 diversity Emmy nominees also include Jeffrey Wright for Westworld (lead actor, drama), Issa Rae for Insecure (lead actress comedy), Tracee Ellis Ross for black-ish (lead actress comedy), Anthony Anderson for black-ish (lead actor comedy), Regina King for Seven Seconds (lead actress limited series/movie), Darren Criss for The Assassination of Gianni Versace (lead actor limited series), Antonio Banderas for Genius: Picasso (lead actor limited series/movie), John Legend for Jesus Christ Superstar (lead actor limited series/movie), Thandie Newton for Westworld (supporting actress drama series), Zazie Beetz for Atlanta (supporting actress comedy series), Leslie Jones for SNL (supporting actress comedy series), Tituss Burgess for Unbrekable Kimmy Schmidt (supporting actor comedy), Brian Tyree Henryfor Atlanta (supporting actor comedy), Penelope Cruz for The Assassination of Gianni Versace (supporting actress limited series), Adina Porter for American Horror Story: Cult (supporting actress limited series), Letitia Wright for Black Mirror (supporting actress limited series), Brandon Victor Dixon for Jesus Christ Superstar (supporting actor limited series/movie), John Leguizamofor Waco (supporting actor limited series), Ricky Martin for The Assassination of Gianni Versace (supporting actor limited series), Edgar Ramirez for The Assassination of Gianni Versace (supporting actor limited series), Viola Davis for Scandal (guest actress drama), Kelly Jenrette for The Handmaid’s Tale (guest actress drama), Samira Wiley for The Handmaid’s Tale (guest actress drama), Ron Cephas Jones for This Is Us (guest actor drama), Maya Rudolph forThe Good Place (guest comedy actress), Wanda Sykes for black-ish (guest comedy actress), Lin-Manuel Miranda for Curb Your Enthusiasm (guest actor comedy), Katt Williams for Atlanta (guest actor comedy), W. Kamau Bell for United Shades of America With W. Kamau Bell (host reality or reality competition) and RuPaul for RuPaul’s Drag Race (host reality or reality competition)
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