Emmy Nominations Reflect Television’s Embrace of Diversity

Take that, Oscars. In a year when the film industry’s biggest awards were roundly criticized for having an all-white lineup of acting nominees, the Emmy Awards nommed a record 18 black actors in 11 different thesping categories. Impressively, the number comes without any single program leading the charge.

HBO’s “Bessie” landed noms for star Queen Latifah and supporting standouts Mo’Nique and Michael Kenneth Williams, but other than the “How to Get Away With Murder” daughter-mother duo of Viola Davis (lead actress) and Cicely Tyson (guest), the remaining 13 nominees hail from 13 different programs on outlets ranging from ABC to Netflix to Showtime.

That reinforces how the smallscreen’s much-ballyhooed movement toward diversity isn’t just a matter of one or two shows or progressive networks, but instead a wider spread of diverse voices.

But before TV Academy voters give themselves a collective pat on the back, it’s worth noting that only two black creatives were nominated for writing and directing: “Bessie” helmer and co-scripter Dee Rees landed a pair of noms, while “American Crime” showrunner John Ridley picked up one for scripting.

Also, the representation for actors who aren’t either white or black is pretty bleak. With the CW’s Golden Globe-winning “Jane the Virgin” landing only a single nom in the Emmy voiceover category, Latinos were nearly shut out. Asians were completely left off the nom lists, despite the praise for ABC’s freshman “Fresh Off the Boat” and leading lady Constance Wu.

In fact, the lead actress in a comedy category — where “Jane” star Gina Rodriguez was a favorite, and Wu was a darkhorse — is one of the four performer categories this year to include only white nominees.

As much progress as the Emmys have made, there’s still room for improvement.

More TV

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Virtual reality

    Nickelodeon's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Go Virtual at Comic-Con

    Take that, Oscars. In a year when the film industry’s biggest awards were roundly criticized for having an all-white lineup of acting nominees, the Emmy Awards nommed a record 18 black actors in 11 different thesping categories. Impressively, the number comes without any single program leading the charge. HBO’s “Bessie” landed noms for star Queen […]

  • Destan Arslanoski Stunt Performer

    Stunt Performers Say There's Not Enough Being Done to Address Risks of the Job

    Take that, Oscars. In a year when the film industry’s biggest awards were roundly criticized for having an all-white lineup of acting nominees, the Emmy Awards nommed a record 18 black actors in 11 different thesping categories. Impressively, the number comes without any single program leading the charge. HBO’s “Bessie” landed noms for star Queen […]

  • Discovery Extends CEO David Zaslav's Contract

    Discovery Extends CEO David Zaslav's Contract Through 2023

    Take that, Oscars. In a year when the film industry’s biggest awards were roundly criticized for having an all-white lineup of acting nominees, the Emmy Awards nommed a record 18 black actors in 11 different thesping categories. Impressively, the number comes without any single program leading the charge. HBO’s “Bessie” landed noms for star Queen […]

  • Janina Gavankar

    Eka Darville, Janina Gavankar, Italia Ricci Join North Fork TV Festival Lineup

    Take that, Oscars. In a year when the film industry’s biggest awards were roundly criticized for having an all-white lineup of acting nominees, the Emmy Awards nommed a record 18 black actors in 11 different thesping categories. Impressively, the number comes without any single program leading the charge. HBO’s “Bessie” landed noms for star Queen […]

  • Alice Wetterlund

    'Silicon Valley' Actress Calls T.J. Miler a 'Bully,' Cast Members 'Complicit'

    Take that, Oscars. In a year when the film industry’s biggest awards were roundly criticized for having an all-white lineup of acting nominees, the Emmy Awards nommed a record 18 black actors in 11 different thesping categories. Impressively, the number comes without any single program leading the charge. HBO’s “Bessie” landed noms for star Queen […]

  • Troy Searer, Jesse Angelo

    New York Post Launches TV Division (EXCLUSIVE)

    Take that, Oscars. In a year when the film industry’s biggest awards were roundly criticized for having an all-white lineup of acting nominees, the Emmy Awards nommed a record 18 black actors in 11 different thesping categories. Impressively, the number comes without any single program leading the charge. HBO’s “Bessie” landed noms for star Queen […]

  • Anderson Cooper Facebook Watch

    Facebook Watch's News Programs Need to Look Less Like TV and More Like Facebook (Column)

    Take that, Oscars. In a year when the film industry’s biggest awards were roundly criticized for having an all-white lineup of acting nominees, the Emmy Awards nommed a record 18 black actors in 11 different thesping categories. Impressively, the number comes without any single program leading the charge. HBO’s “Bessie” landed noms for star Queen […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content