Each year the Television Academy continues to recognize the work of performers from a variety of diverse backgrounds, with this year’s nominations reflecting a record 27 performers – up from last year’s 21 – across the drama, comedy, limited/movie, guest and shorts categories. Counting reality hosts W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America), RuPaul Charles (RuPaul’s Drag Race) and Snoop Dogg (Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party) that number moves up to 30.
The abundance of diverse roles in TV over film can largely be attributed to the surge in the number of productions being produced across broadcast, cable, streaming and the web for a wide spectrum of demos.
Among those categories with an abundance of nominations are lead actor in a comedy series which includes Anthony Anderson for Black-ish, Aziz Ansari for Master of None and Donald Glover for Atlanta; as well as supporting actress in a drama series which boasts Uzo Aduba in Orange Is the New Black, Thandie Newton in Westworld and Samira Wiley in The Handmaid’s Tale. Last year it was the limited series lead actor and supporting comedy actor categories that were crowded.
Last year marked the second time in Emmy history that the best actress drama category featured two African-Americans: Taraji P. Henson for Fox’s Empire and Viola Davis of How to Get Away With Murder. Only Davis is nominated this year, her third time for How to Get Away With Murder. Two years ago, she became the first black actress to win in the category. Earlier this year Davis took home the supporting actress Oscar for Fences.
Three African American actors — Sterling K. Brown (lead drama), Ron Cephas Jones (supporting drama), and Brian Tyree Henry (guest drama) — are nominated for NBC/Twentieth Century Fox TV’s This Is Us. The trio starred in arguably the show’s pinnacle emotional episode “Memphis” (which voters overlooked in the drama and writing category) whereby Brown’s Randall Pearson takes a sentimental road trip with his dying father, Jones’ William Hill, to the latter’s Memphis stomping grounds for a family union.
This year’s 30 diversity nominees include Viola Davis for How to Get Away With Murder (lead actress drama); Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us (lead actor drama); Riz Ahmed, The Night Of (lead actor limited series); Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish (lead actress comedy); Anthony Anderson, Black-ish (lead actor comedy); Aziz Ansari, Master of None (lead actor comedy); Donald Glover, Atlanta (lead actor comedy); Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black (supporting actress drama); Thandie Newton, Westworld (supporting actress drama); Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale (supporting actress drama); Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us (supporting actor drama); Jeffrey Wright, Westworld (supporting actor drama); Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live (best supporting actress comedy); Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (best supporting actor comedy); Regina King, American Crime (supporting actress limited series); Michael Kenneth Williams (supporting actor limited series); Riz Ahmed, Girls (guest comedy actor); Dave Chappelle, Saturday Night Live (guest comedy actor); Lin-Manuel Miranda (guest comedy actor); BD Wong, Mr. Robot (guest drama actor); Brian Tyree Henry, This Is Us (guest drama actor); Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away With Murder (guest drama actress); Laverne Cox, Orange Is The New Black (guest drama actress); Wanda Sykes, Black-ish (guest actress comedy); Angela Bassett, Master of None (guest actress comedy); Kim Estes, Dicks (short-form actor); Kelsey Scott, Fear the Walking Dead: Passage (short-form actor); W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America); RuPaul Charles (RuPaul’s Drag Race); and Snoop Dogg (Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party) (all Reality/Reality Competition hosts).