As diversity and inclusion attempt to stay afloat in Hollywood, this morning’s Emmy nominations showed that although the needle has been slowly moving, it hasn’t been moving enough to see change. This year, there were only 24 acting nominations for people of color. In addition, two reality show hosts of color were nominated which brings the total to 26. This is a major dip from last year’s record 38 and even less than 2017 which counted 27 diverse nominees.
Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us came in with the most nominations for people of color including a first-time nod for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Jharrel Jerome’s stunning turn as the real-life Korey Wise in the Netflix limited series. Other well deserved nominations from the series included Niecy Nash and Aunjanue Ellis for Lead Actress Limited Series or Movie as well as Marsha Stephanie Blake for Supporting Actress. Rounding out the robust list of nominations for the series about the Exonerated 5 include John Leguizamo, Michael K. Williams and newcomer Asante Blackk for Supporting Actor.
Other first-time nominees of color include Billy Porter for his turn in the groundbreaking FX drama Pose. Kumail Nanjiani was also nominated for his role in CBS All Access’ The Twilight Zone as well as Benicio del Toro for Escape from Dannemora.
Mahershala Ali received a nomination for his role in the third installment of True Detective, which marks his second Emmy nod. He was previously nominated for House of Cards.
Repeat nominees on the list include Viola Davis for Lead Actress in a Drama (How to Get Away With Murder), Anthony Anderson for Lead Actor in a Comedy (black-ish), Don Cheadle for Lead Actor in a Comedy (Black Monday – he has been nominated seven times prior), Sterling K. Brown for Lead Actor in a Drama Series (This Is Us), Giancarlo Esposito for Supporting Actor in a Drama (Better Call Saul), Glynn Turman for Guest Actor in a Drama (How To Get Away With Murder) , Ron Cephas Jones for Guest Actor in a Drama (This Is Us), Maya Rudolph for Guest Actress in a Comedy (The Good Place) as well as Cicely Tyson (How To Get Away With Murder), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) and Phylicia Rashad (This Is Us) for Guest Actress in a Drama. Sandra Oh was nominated in two categories including Lead Actress in a Drama for her role in Killing Eve as well as Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her hosting gig on Saturday Night Live.
On the reality show hosting front, RuPaul Charles was nominated for RuPaul’s Drag Race as well as Marie Kondo for Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, marking her first nomination.
For LGBTQ representation, there were nominations in the acting and hosting categories. In addition to Porter, Cox, and Charles, Ben Whishaw was nominated for A Very English Scandal while SNL’s Kate McKinnon nabbed another nom and Ellen Degeneres received a nod for hosting Ellen’s Game of Games. Cherry Jones was also nominated for Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in The Handmaid’s Tale. On top of all that, Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette was nominated for two awards: Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) as well as Writing for a Variety Special. This is, of course, based on all of those who have openly identified as members of the LGBTQ community.
On a disappointing front, actors of color were completely shut out of numerous categories including Lead Actress in a Comedy, Supporting Actress in a Drama, Supporting Actor in a Comedy, Supporting Actress in a Comedy as well as Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
This is all in comparison to last year when the Emmys set a new record for nominations in acting and hosting categories from diverse backgrounds with 38 nominees that included people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. Sandra Oh made history as the first Asian American nominated in the lead actress drama series category while Kenan Thompson earned his first nod in his 15 years at Saturday Night Live. Even though last year’s inclusive nominations hit a record high, the winners announced were a different story. Only a trio of people of color were presented with Emmys during the televised ceremony: Regina King for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited series for Seven Seconds; Thandie Newton for Outstanding Supporting Actress for Westworld and Darren Criss for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series for The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
The silver lining was at the non-televised Creative Arts Emmys when actors of color swept the outstanding guest acting categories. Tiffany Haddish won for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for hosting Saturday Night Live while Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us), Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Katt Williams (Atlanta) took home trophies.
RuPaul’s Drag Race made history last year when it won for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program and Outstanding Host for RuPaul Charles — the first show to take both categories in the same year. On the non-performing front, Yance Ford also made history for being the first openly trans man to win Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking for the Netflix documentary, Strong Island.