The 68th Emmy Awards were presented last night on ABC, in an event presented by the Television Academy, and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.
“Television dominates the entertainment conversation and is enjoying the most spectacular run in its history with breakthrough creativity, emerging platforms and dynamic new opportunities for our industry’s storytellers,” Television Academy Chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum said in a previous statement. “From favorites like Game of Thrones, Veep, and House of Cards to nominations newcomers like black-ish, Master of None, The Americans and Mr. Robot, television has never been more impactful in its storytelling, sheer breadth of series and quality of performances by an incredibly diverse array of talented performers. The Television Academy is thrilled to once again honor the very best that television has to offer.”
So let’s get right down to it.
As I noted in the post 2 months ago, announcing the nominees, this year’s list of nominated performances and programs is the *blackest* we’ve ever seen, given the number of black actors, actresses, shows and behind-the-camera personnel tapped for consideration by the Television Academy.
For the full list of nominees, click here to download the press file.
Consider that, just last year, Viola Davis made history, becoming the first black woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Incredible when you consider that this was the 67th edition of the Awards. Some would say, better late than never; for others, it’s about damn time! This came after just 5 (FIVE) previous nominations for black actresses in that specific category in the entire history of the Emmys – Debbie Allen, Alfre Woodard, Regina Taylor, Cicely Tyson, and Kerry Washington for “Fame,” “St. Elsewhere,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Sweet Justice,” and “Scandal” respectively. So that should give you some idea of just how much black talent has been recognized by the Emmys over the years – not very often; certainly not with the kind of volume we’re seeing this year.
Two years ago, in 2014, there were 13 black nominees in the above so-called *key* categories, according to the S&A archives. This year, there are about twice that number.
Before 2016, 2015 holds the record for most black nominees. Looking through the S&A archives again, I count as many as 27 black nominees last year, across all categories, not just the *key* categories.
You’d have to go back to the early to mid-1990s to find TV seasons with the kind of representation we saw in the last season (2015/2016), in terms of black talent in front of and behind the camera – especially when it comes to dramas. As you might recall, it was around this time last year when I published a piece titled “73+ New TV Pilots & Series with Black Actors in Starring and/or Supporting Roles Ordered for Next Season,” which looked at what was a record number. And while most of them did not make it to series, we’ve seen the effects of that record number of orders manifest itself over the last 9 to 10 months.
So I expected to see a healthy number of the black nominees win in their categories – not only because they deserve to win, but also especially because we’re in a year in which stalwart Hollywood institutions are facing heavy criticism – maybe more-so than ever – for the lack of diversity among their ranks. I argued previously that there might be some added pressure (real or perceived) on Emmy voters to distance the Awards show from what we saw at the Oscars earlier this year.
And several of the nominees did walk away with trophies last night, although I expected even more of them would.
Of note, to this blog, given its stated focus, see a list of black nominees in *key* categories below, with the winners in bold below:
- In the Outstanding Casting For A Limited Series, Movie Or Special category: “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, “ and the “Roots” miniseries reboot are both nominated.
- In the Outstanding Directing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special category: Both Anthony Hemingway and John Singleton are nominated for directing episodes of “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”
- In the Outstanding Directing For A Variety Special category: Chris Rock is nominated for directing “Amy Schumer: Live At The Apollo” and Kahlil Joseph and Beyoncé Knowles Carter are both nominated for directing “Lemonade.”
- In the Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series category: Anthony Anderson is nominated for his performance in “black-ish.”
- In the Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie category: Idris Elba is nominated for “Luther,” Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” and Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O.J. Simpson in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”
- In the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series category: “black-ish” scores another nomination – Tracee Ellis Ross.
- In the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series category: Taraji P. Henson in nominated for “Empire,” and Viola Davis for “How To Get Away With Murder.”
- In the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie category: Kerry Washington as Anita Hill in “Confirmation” is nominated and Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” received a nominated as well.
- In the Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series category: Andre Braugher gets a nod for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Keegan-Michael Key for “Key & Peele,” and Tituss Burgess for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
- In the Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie category: Bokeem Woodbine is nominated for “Fargo,” as is Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”
- In the Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series category: Niecy Nash is nominated for “Getting On.”
- In the Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie category: “American Crime” gets another nod: Regina King.
- In the Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series category: Tracy Morgan is nominated for hosting “Saturday Night Live.”
- In the Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series category: Both Reg E. Cathey and Mahershala Ali are nominated for “House Of Cards.”
- In the Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special: “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is nominated.
- In the Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program category: Steve Harvey is nominated for “Little Big Shots starring Steve Harvey” and RuPaul Charles for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
- In the Outstanding Comedy Series category: “black-ish” is nominated.
- In the Outstanding Limited Series category: “American Crime,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and “Roots” are all nominees.
- In the Outstanding Television Movie category: “Confirmation” and “Luther” are both nominated.
- In the Outstanding Variety Sketch Series category: “Key & Peele” is a nominee.
- In the Outstanding Variety Special category: “Lemonade” is nominated.
- In the Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special category: “What Happened, Miss Simone?” is nominated.
- In the Outstanding Informational Series Or Special category: “Star Talk With Neil deGrasse Tyson” and “The Story Of God With Morgan Freeman” are both nominated.
- In the Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking category: Stanley Nelson’s “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” is nominated.
So, clearly a great night for “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story;” the anthology series’ next season will set its sights on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, looking at the tragedy from multiple viewpoints. I expect it will be just as riveting.
Of course kudos goes to Regina King for 2 wins in the same category, in a row (she won last year as well, also for “American Crime.” She’s certainly on a roll, also receiving acclaim for another series she co-stars in, “The Leftovers.”
As a new TV season begins, who might be on this list a year from now? Will any new entries receive Emmy recognition? Like Donald Glover’s “Atlanta”? Will OWN’s “Queen Sugar” or “Greenleaf” find themselves in the mix? Maybe Issa Rae’s “Insecure”? Fox’s “Pitch” perhaps? And with Starz’s move of its Saturday night series to Sunday nights in order to put them in a better position to compete for critical attention, will “Power” or “Survivor’s Remorse” gain? Are Netflix’s “The Get Down” or even “Marvel’s Luke Cage” potentials?
Both “Atlanta” and “Queen Sugar” are certainly off to strong starts, with regards to critical acclaim, as we wait for early word on other newbies.
“Underground” which received much critical acclaim, but wasn’t recognized by the Television Academy for its first season, returns next year, for a second season, and may see its fortune’s rise, with the addition of actresses like Aisha Hinds, playing a significant character who will be fully realized in the upcoming season – Harriet Tubman.
And let’s not forget Viola Davis is also working on a Harriet Tubman project – a movie for HBO – which could begin filming at any time; our last update on the project included a mention that producers of the film were then searching for a director. It’s a telepic that could premiere before the current TV season ends, just in time to be considered for an Emmy in 2017.
And there are several other new shows or TV movies coming this season, including “The Breaks” series on VH1, guided by Seith Mann; BET also returns with another season of “Being Mary Jane” under new leadership, since the show’s creator’s, the Akils, are no longer engaged with BET, although they’ll continue to receive exec producer credits on the series; and while “Roots” the series didn’t walk away with any trophies, it was nominated in multiple categories, which was a win for BET, considering that it’s rare that the network is recognized by the Emmys for any of its programming.
Fox could enter the race with its limited series “Shots Fired” (also very timely, which might be a benefit) during the second half of the TV season.
By all accounts, this TV season should also be just as chock-full of representation – specifically black actors/actresses (many I haven’t mentioned here) in starring, co-starring, or supporting roles in comedies and dramas on network TV, as well as basic and premium cable. From Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright in HBO’s “Westworld,” to Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson as leads in an ensemble cast in NBC’s new drama series “This Is Us,” to Michael Ealy and Mekia Cox in another NBC drama series, “Secrets and Lies” (in lead roles), to Gina Torres moving over the ABC’s “The Catch” (although not in a lead role), and several others.
So I’m expecting some more good things for black talent in 2017,
See you next year!