After the 73rd annual award show aired, #EmmysSoWhite plagued social media, yet again, as online users expressed their disappointment in the lack of recognition awarded to performers of color.
Realistically, the facts are bleak. Despite the groundbreaking 44 percent of nominations in the Primetime Emmys, minority actors weren’t awarded nearly as much. The results were especially disappointing considering the prior week’s Creative Arts Emmys — which proved to be more progressive based on how many awards were doled out to entertainers of color.
While a reported two out of three of the Primetime Emmys’ presenters have been BIPOC — with hip-hop veteran MC Lyte serving as the show’s announcer — host Cedric the Entertainer pointed out the Television Academy’s rise in diverse nominations versus the likelihood of performers of color actually receiving awards.
“It comes with a lot of pressure, being Black, hosting a job like this,” the comedian said at the beginning of the show before joking that the night’s Black nominees might expect higher chances of winning since he was hosting.
“The good news is there are a lot of Black people nominated tonight,” Cedric the Entertainer added. “Like my dawg Anthony Anderson… This is Anthony’s 11th nomination, but tonight he’s up against Michael Douglas and Ted Lasso. So good luck, partner, but I gotta say, looks like it’s still hard out here for a pimp.”
Anderson didn’t end up winning in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category for his role as Andre Johnson in the primetime series Black-Ish. It was almost as if Cedric foretold Anderson’s [and Kenan Thompson’s] fate. The award was lost to Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis.
Anderson’s co-star Tracee Ellis Ross didn’t take home the win in the women’s category either, despite two nominations this year [and six cumulatively] for her role as a producer on Black-Ish and as the show’s female lead, Rainbow Johnson.
Similarly, despite their moving performances in Pose’s last season, Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez were also snubbed. Buzzfeed News reported that Rodriguez was a “category frontrunner expected to make history as the first-ever transgender performer to win a trophy for leading female actor.”
Rodriguez ended up losing the award to The Crown’s Olivia Colman, seemingly another indication that the Television Academy prioritized validating white-centered stories with white casts.
As the night went on, neither Porter, breakout Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page or Sterling K. Brown of This Is Us were awarded in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category. That also went to The Crown’s Josh O’Connor.
HBO’s Lovecraft Country only took home two awards out of the 18 Emmys nominations it got this year, despite its critically acclaimed first and last season. Courtney B. Vance received one for Outstanding Guest Actor in the series and the other was for Outstanding Sound Editing.
Unfortunately, late actor Michael K. Williams wasn’t posthumously celebrated with an award either after being nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Drama Actor category for his performance in the HBO hit.
The network’s other series A Black Lady Sketch Show only took home one award even though it was nominated in five categories.
Overall, the winners and losers from the collective Emmys this year only emphasized the conversation around whether the Television Academy has an obligation to Black Hollywood. At this point — six years since #EmmysSoWhite was first popularized — it’s hard to argue that all the snubs actors of color face aren’t intentional.
Because there was such a lack of minority winners, yesterday’s Primetime Emmys came off as a celebration of performative diversity instead of a genuine step in the right direction. It could have been an excellent moment for performers of color to get more of the spotlight, duly, and for authentic stories of marginalized communities to be honored.
Instead of just piling up nominations, hopefully next year the Television Academy will honor the contributions of people of color in La La Land by actually awarding them. Only time will tell.