The nominees for the 2017 Emmy Awards were announced Thursday morning during a formal livestream hosted by Shemar Moore and Anna Chlumsky in which the main categories were presented. The rest of the nominees had to be discovered in a 67-page document written in a tiny font that I’m still mad about. And while there were some marked advancements in the diversity of nominees among the 2017 nods, you had to dig through that PDF to find the women of color.
Nods for lead actors of color like Aziz Ansari, [zaddy] Donald Glover, Riz Ahmed, and Sterling K. Brown — just to name a few — present the beaming new face of television. Members of the Television Academy have heard our concerns. They are paying closer attention to the stories of people of color, and they are recognizing that performers of color are also turning out award-worthy work both in front of and behind the camera. These advancements were apparent in the lead actor nominations; however, there were only two women of color nominated for leading roles — Viola Davis for How to Get Away with Murder and Tracee Ellis-Ross for black-ish — which meant turning to that clunky 67-page document to find the other female nominees of color. They're dominating the supporting actress categories.
Samira Wiley, Uzo Aduba, and Thandie Newton are all nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for The Handmaid’s Tale, Orange Is the New Black, and Westworld, respectively. Leslie Jones is nominated as a supporting actress for her role on Saturday Night Live, and Regina King for the limited series American Crime. Wanda Sykes and Angela Bassett earned nods as guest actresses on black-ish and Master of None, while Laverne Cox received her second nomination as a guest actress on OITNB recognition. Cicely Tyson, who appeared as a guest star on How to Get Away With Murder, is also nominated.
All of these women are amazing and capable actors, as are some of the actresses of color who were not nominated at all. It is simply an injustice that Issa Rae did not receive a single nod for the masterpiece that is Insecure — which she created, stars in, and executive produces. And the fact that Danielle Brooks did not receive any recognition for her role as Taystee on OITNB is extremely suspect. Snubs against Queen Sugar and the women in Power also stick out like sore thumbs.
This year’s Emmy nominations show that people of color have been given their seat at the proverbial table in television. Unfortunately, women of color seem to be relegated to the seats at the “other end” where they can hardly hear or participate in the meaningful conversations. Their glass ceiling is on a lower floor, and it needs to be shattered with the same urgency.