Phylicia Rashad has landed her third consecutive Emmy nom for This Is Us. The TV Academy’s recognition of the actress comes on the heels of controversy over her comments, surrounding Bill Cosby’s release from prison.
This year (as in 2019 and 2020), Rashad is nommed in the category of Drama Guest Actress. On NBC’s intergenerational family drama series, she plays Carol Clarke, the loving (albeit somewhat overbearing) mother of Susan Kelechi Watson’s Beth Pearson.
Rashad’s latest Emmy nomination brings her to a career total of six. The actress had previously been nominated in 2008 for her turn as Lena Younger in a TV movie adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play, A Raisin in the Sun. Her first two noms came in 1985 and ’86 for her lead role on The Cosby Show.
Rashad notably collaborated with disgraced actor and comedian Bill Cosby on that iconic sitcom, which ran on NBC between 1984 and 1992, and on the CBS sitcom Cosby, which aired between 1996 and 2000. On the former series, she played Clair Huxtable, the wife of Cosby’s Dr. Heathcliff ‘Cliff’ Huxtable. On the latter, she portrayed Ruth, wife to Cosby’s Hilton Lucas.
In April of 2018, Cosby was found guilty in his second trial for the 2004 rape of former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, and was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. But on the 30th, the comic’s sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Following Cosby’s release from the State Correctional Institution Phoenix in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, the actress tweeted, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected!”
Comments on Rashad’s tweet were closed, and viewable only to those she followed. Less than an hour after her post was published, though, it had engendered more than 10,000 retweets with added commentary, much of which was critical of her position.
On the heels of this viral moment, which saw Rashad and “Claire Huxtable” trending on Twitter, the actress returned to the web to walk back her initial tweet. “I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth,” she wrote. “Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects. My heartfelt wish is for healing.”
Rashad, who also serves as dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts, later extended her “most sincere apology” to students and parents affiliated with the institution, in the form of a letter. “My remarks were in no way directed towards survivors of sexual assault. I vehemently oppose sexual violence, find no excuse for such behavior, and I know that Howard University has a zero-tolerance policy toward interpersonal violence,” she wrote.
The actress added in her letter that she plans “to engage in active listening and participate in trainings to not only reinforce University protocol and conduct, but also to learn how I can become a stronger ally to sexual assault survivors and everyone who has suffered at the hands of an abuser.” Ultimately, she also deleted her tweet in support of Cosby’s release.
While more than 60 women have claimed that Cosby drugged and assaulted them over the decades, he has long contested the accusations against him. “I have never changed my stance nor my story,” he wrote on Twitter the day of his release. “I have always maintained my innocence.”
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