Jason George took the stage at a crowded Montage Beverly Hills patio area Thursday evening to mark the celebration of diversity in the 67th Annual Emmy Award nominations. The patio was filled with attendees involved in showbiz — most of whom are considered a minority of some kind.
The third Dynamic & Diverse event from the TV Academy brought people from the industry old and new to celebrate the occasion. “Grey’s Anatomy” regular George, chair of SAG-AFTRA’s Diversity Advisory Committee, made a speech that touched on the “Empire” effect — or as he likes to call it, the “Shonda Rhimes” effect — that snowballed into the 2015-16 season having the most diverse television content in years.
“Diversity is good business,” he started. It was a statement that he had made last year before series “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat” premiered. He continued, “I don’t know if we can do ‘All in the Family’ in 2015, but a show about a dad transitioning to be a woman as a comedy is in the same territory. There’s bravery that’s happening in these shows being created.”
When asked for a reaction to this year’s record number of diverse Emmy nominations, “New Girl” star Lamorne Morris commended his peers in the spotlight.
“It feels terrible because I wasn’t nominated. Am I bitter? No, no, no, no…. not bitter,” he quipped. Morris added that he truly felt thankful. “Hollywood is changing, it’s growing and catching up to what the world actually looks like.”
But the mantra for the evening was that there was still work to be done. Emmy-nominated Richard Cabral said he was happy to be a part of John Ridley’s “American Crime,” which brings discussions about race into the family room. The series raked in 10 Emmy nominations.
“People are still receptive to it, and obviously we hit something because we’re coming back for season two,” he said. “People want this story, people want truth, people want to know what’s happening in society.”
“Hawaii Five-0’s” Daniel Dae Kim told Variety that he was thrilled to see his friends and colleagues in “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Dr. Ken” bring more family faces to the smallscreen. As their personal cheerleader, he said, he will be tuning in for every episode of the sitcoms’ upcoming season.
“It’s great anytime we make strides including race, gender, sexual orientation. The more inclusive our industry can be the better,” he said.
Reminiscent of the days in the ’90s and early millennium, when Martin Lawrence, Queen Latifah, Will Smith, Mark Curry, LL Cool J and more were at the helm of network sitcoms, “Grimm” actress and “The Jamie Foxx Show” alum Garcelle Beauvais said the coming TV schedule will bring more content for the next generation of viewers to identify with.
“We knew that we were viable and relevant and that we have stories to tell that people want to see. It’s amazing that Hollywood finally is embracing that,” she said. “It’s also wonderful for our kids. I want for my kids to see people who look like them.”
“American Horror Story” actress Jamie Brewer said diversity should be considered more than just shades of skin. “Diversity is not only color, but it also includes individuals with disabilities,” she noted. “There’s a wide variety of diversity, with people that have disabilities from R.J. Mitte in ‘Breaking Bad’ to Danny Woodburn being a little man.”
Other attendees included the kids from “Fresh Off the Boat,” Ian Chen and Hudson Yang; “Black-ish” actress Yara Shahidi; plus Woodburn, Iqbal Theba and Lisa Vidal.
(Pictured: Marcelino Ford-Livene, left, and Jason George)