34% of Emmy Nominations Recognise Black Performers

Thandie Newton

34% of Emmy Nominations Recognise Black Performers

‘This type of representation is a long time coming,’ said Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. ‘There’s no shortage of talent within the Black community.’

There was a palpable feeling of relief as the nominations for this year’s Emmy Awards were released. Cynthia Erivo, who was the only person of colour to be nominated for the 92nd Academy Awards, was one person hoping that this year’s Emmys wouldn’t repeat that pattern. 

Speaking with ET in June, in the middle of Black Lives Matter movement, she said:

‘If we weren’t going through what we’re going through right now, I would probably be holding my breath and I would be like, “Are we going to go through the same thing again? Or am I even going to be included? And am I going to see what we always see?” 

‘But I’m hopeful that this moment will open people’s eyes and hopefully we’ll see something different. I would love for it to change the way we see entertainment performances and open our eyes to all the possibilities. So yeah, I hope it’s different this time.’

It’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Thandie Newton, Instagram
Thandie Newton, Instagram

According to Variety, ‘This is a notable increase from last year, when Black actors made up 19.8% of the nominee pool, as well as an increase from 2018, when there were 27.7% Black actors nominated — the previous highest percentage in the Academy’s history.’

Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO, Television Academy, said: ‘2020 isn’t just about the global health crisis. This year we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history, and it is our duty to use this medium for change. 

‘That is the power and responsibility of television — not only delivering a multitude of services or a little escapism, but also amplifying the voices that must be heard and telling the stories that must be told. Because television, by its very nature, connects us all.’ 

Lupita Nyong’o, Instagram
Lupita Nyong’o, Instagram

‘This type of representation is a long time coming. There’s no shortage of talent within the Black community,’ Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who is up for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his role on Watchmen, told ET by phone. ‘Sometimes it takes certain circumstances in the world for people to open their eyes and people to open up, to widen their periphery. You know, to widen their point of view to see what’s on the shows that they wouldn’t have normally watched… I’m really, really proud to be a part of this crop.’

‘This is my first individual Emmy nomination and I am humbled and grateful to the Television Academy for this incredible honor and for recognizing the importance of this story,’ Octavia Spencer said of being up for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker. 

She added, ‘Today, more than ever, we all have a responsibility to enlighten, educate and entertain an audience and it was a privilege for me personally to portray Madam CJ Walker, someone who resonated so deeply with me on every level. .’

Jeremy Pope, who earned his first career Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Hollywood, was equally reflective of his defining moment.

‘Thank you to the Television Academy, my entire Hollywood family, and to Ryan Murphy for giving me my television debut. My heart is full,’ he said in a statement. ‘I’m proud to see so many Black artists nominated this year. It gives me hope that systemic change in our entertainment industry is not only possible, it’s imminent.’

‘As an artist, it takes a lot of faith to trust that there is space for the stories I want to tell and that the dreams in my heart are tangible,’ Pope continued. ‘Today was a reminder that seeing is believing and everything is possible.’

Kerry Washington, Instagram
Kerry Washington, Instagram

The 2020 Emmy Awards will be announced on 20 September by Jimmy Kimmel, who will host the event on ABC. 

The full list of Black actors nominated for a 2020 Emmy

Don Cheadle, outstanding lead actor in a comedy series, Black Monday

Anthony Anderson, outstanding lead actor in a comedy series, Black-ish

Issa Rae, outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, Insecure

Tracee Ellis Ross, outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, Black-ish

Andre Braugher, outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, Brooklyn 99

Mahershala Ali, outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series for his role in Ramy, and outstanding children’s program for executive producing We Are The Dream: The Kids Of The Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest

Kenan Thompson, outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, Saturday Night Live

Sterling K. Brown, outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series for his role in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and outstanding lead actor in a drama series for his role in This Is Us

Eddie Murphy, outstanding guest actor in a comedy series, Saturday Night Live

Yvonne Orji, outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series, Insecure

Wanda Sykes, outstanding guest actress in a comedy series for playing Moms Mabley in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, outstanding character voice-over performance for her work in Crank Yankers

Billy Porter, outstanding lead actor in a drama series, Pose

Zendaya, outstanding lead actress in a drama series, Euphoria

Jeffrey Wright, outstanding supporting actor in a drama series, Westworld

Giancarlo Esposito, outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his role in Better Call Saul, and outstanding guest actor in The Mandalorian

Thandie Newton, outstanding supporting actress in a drama series, Westworld

Samira Wiley, outstanding supporting actress in a drama series, The Handmaid’s Tale

Laverne Cox, outstanding guest actress in a drama series, Orange Is The New Black

Octavia Spencer, outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie, Self Made

Regina King, outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie, Watchmen

Kerry Washington, outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie, Little Fires Everywhere

Jeremy Pope, outstanding lead actor in a limited series of movie, Hollywood

Angela Bassett, outstanding guest actress in a comedy series for Black Lady Sketch Show, and outstanding narrator for The Imagineering Story

Maya Rudolph, outstanding guest actress in a comedy series for portraying Kamala Harris on Saturday Night Live; outstanding guest actress in a comedy series as The Judge on The Good Place, and outstanding character voice-over performance as Connie the Hormone Monstress in How To Have An Orgasm

Phylicia Rashad, outstanding guest actress in a drama series, This Is Us

Ron Cephas Jones, outstanding guest actor in a drama series, This Is Us 

Stephan James, outstanding actor in a short form comedy or drama series, #FreeRayshawn

Laurence Fishburne, outstanding actor in a short form comedy or drama series, #FreeRayshawn

Mamoudou Athie, outstanding actor in a short form comedy or drama series, Oh Jerome, No

Corey Hawkins, outstanding actor in a short form comedy or drama series, Survive

Jasmine Cephas Jones, outstanding actress in a short form comedy or drama series, #FreeRayshawn

Robin Thede and the entire A Black Lady Sketch Show team for outstanding variety sketch series.

Lupita Nyong’o, outstanding narrator, Serengeti

Chiwetel Ejiofor, outstanding narrator, The Elephant Queen