Darbo earned a statue for her role as Mickey Walker on “The Bay” in the guest performer in a digital daytime drama series category at the 45th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards held in April. Producers of “The Bay” had submitted her in that category, but that submission contained two violations, according to NATAS. In addition to having previously appeared on the show, her reel contained material from more than one episode, when rules state it should be from a single episode. After the submission error came to light, NATAS revoked her Emmy, and decided not to award it to another performer.
In a statement released Monday, Darbo said although she is disappointed to have her honor taken away, her focus is on the larger picture, saying, “the ultimate responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of NATAS. They should have vetted each and every submission and then notified those submitting of any submission errors in advance of the voting and the ceremony.”
She says that NATAS knew of the submission errors two days prior to the ceremony but chose not to deal with it at the time, and that she has since learned that there was also a similar rule violation in supporting actor in a digital drama category. Darbo claims that although her award was revoked, the supporting actor winner was allowed to keep his Emmy after NATAS decided the rules were “ambiguous.”
“The inequity in this year’s Daytime Emmys based on ageism, gender inequality, and perceived favoritism is, in my opinion, a big blow to the Emmy brand,” she said. “The TV Academy, who administers the primtime Emmy Awards, is very clear that Emmys are awarded to those who achieve excellence in television. I’m beginning to wonder what NATAS feels the Emmys stand for.”
At the end of the statement, she calls for “an outside audit of the submission and voting process of this past Daytime Emmy Awards would be a show of good will by NATAS and would help to restore integrity and confidence in the Daytime Emmy Awards.”
NATAS responded in an interview with Soap Opera Digest, saying they take any allegations of irregularity “very seriously” and acknowledged that the rule was “poorly written” and would be changed moving forward. But they denied that ageism or gender inequality played a role in their decision making. “No. 1, if anyone knows me and No. 2, that isn’t how NATAS operates, and No. 3, it never even occurred to me about who was male and who was female, just like it wouldn’t have occurred to me who was what race or what,” said David Michaels, NATAS’ senior vice president for Daytime Emmy awards and events.
Darbo was previously nominated for a Daytime Emmy in 2000 for “Days of Our Lives” and won a Primetime Emmy in 2016 for best actress in a short form comedy or drama series on “Acting Dead.”
Read the full statement below:
As disappointed as I am about having my Daytime Emmy taken back by NATAS, as a Co-Governor of the Performers Peer Group at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in Los Angeles, overseeing the Primetime Emmys, I am more concerned about how this incident tarnishes the Emmy brand. I did not submit myself for Daytime Emmy consideration, my producers at The Bay made the submission. However, at the end of the day, the onus for a correct submission is not on the producers of The Bay, or any other producers; the ultimate responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of NATAS. They should have vetted each and every submission and then notified those submitting of any submission errors in advance of the voting and the ceremony.
I understand that in my category there were at least four submission errors. NATAS was made aware of these potential errors two days prior to the ceremony and made a conscious decision not to deal with it until after the ceremony was over. These errors were then not brought to light until after the Daytime Emmys were presented and awarded, meaning that other actors who did properly submit have now lost their chance at winning a Daytime Emmy.
In addition to the rule violations in my category, there was a similar rule violation in the category for Supporting Actor in a Digital Drama. I was made aware of this violation when NATAS called to inform me of the situation. After taking back my Daytime Emmy, NATAS called another female performer in my category to re-issue the Emmy, as she was the next runner up according to the accountancy firm. The very next day, NATAS called her back and said she could not have it as she had submitted one episode too many (the rule is that one episode may be submitted for consideration and the new recipient submitted two). However, the winner of the Daytime Emmy in a Supporting Actor in a Digital Drama was allowed to keep his statue, (the rule is that four episodes may be submitted for consideration, the recipient submitted five episodes). NATAS determined after the fact that the rules for Supporting Actor and his show were “ambiguous”.
As a performer in film and television for over three decades, who fights diligently for fairness and equity for my fellow actors by volunteering my time and leadership at both SAG/AFTRA and the TV Academy (ATAS), the arbitrary and after-the-fact ruling feels inequitable and wrong. A rule is a rule. If the rule is going to be changed or declared “ambiguous” it should be done prior to voting, not after the votes are in and the Emmys have been handed out.
The inequity in this year’s Daytime Emmys based on ageism, gender inequality, and perceived favoritism is, in my opinion, a big blow to the Emmy brand. The TV Academy, who administers the Prime Time Emmy Awards, is very clear that Emmys are awarded to those who achieve excellence in television. I’m beginning to wonder what NATAS feels the Emmys stand for.
For the sake of the overall Emmy brand, I feel an outside audit of the submission and voting process of this past Daytime Emmy Awards would be a show of good will by NATAS and would help to restore integrity and confidence in the Daytime Emmy Awards.