Award shows often don’t recognize a good thing when it’s right in front of them. The number of amazing programs and performances from people of color that go unnoticed every year is proof of that. The Emmys aren’t exempt from this, either. For the past two years, while the rest of the world has been celebrating the amazing content being put forth by Black woman content creators like Issa Rae and Lena Waithe, the Emmys didn’t nominate HBO’s Insecure: not for the performances, the writing, or the production. That changed this year when Rae — who created, writes, and stars in the show — was finally nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
Insecure is a hilarious, female-focused take on what it means to be a Black millennial in America. And for all of the ways that it’s extremely simple, and sometimes basic, it’s also kind of revolutionary. Black girls rarely get to see our existence normalized. For too long, that lane was monopolized by white women on Girls, or Two Broke Girls. Issa, the main character played by Rae, is a twenty-something going through the motions of a breakup; working an unfulfilling and slightly problematic job; and scaling the highs and lows of life with her friends. Issa and her core group all went to college and come from two-parent homes. The lack of tragedy is honestly refreshing. The show has shifted the way we think about everything from gang members and their place in our communities to Black women and casual sex. Audiences agree. Each week, the comedy sends Twitter into a flurry of meaningful conversations about love, friendship, and Blackness itself.
And then there is Rae herself, who has been catapulted into a new level of fame as a result of the show. She’s blossomed into a beauty and fashion icon. She even hosted the 2018 CFDA awards. Her genius has inspired HBO to offer her production deals for two more shows. I like to imagine her walking through the hallways of the network in slow motion, draping her jacket over the monitor of some assistant’s computer. I stan a true trailblazer. Through it all, Rae as been breezing through Hollywood "rooting for everybody Black" and championing Black girl magic. Her Emmy nomination honestly feels like a win for Black girls everywhere, and I’m so proud that I can’t stop crying about it.
Rae isn’t the only Black woman holding it down in the 2018 Emmy nominee pool, either. Tracee Ellis-Ross has been nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for three years straight thanks to her role as Dr. Rainbow Johnson in ABC’s black-ish. Regina King, who starred in the Netflix original Seven Seconds, was nominated for Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. Leslie Jones (Saturday Night Live!) and Zazie Beetz (FX’s Atlanta) are competing for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Meanwhile Tiffany Haddish’s guest appearance on SNL and Wanda Sykes' recurring guest role on black-ish got them both nominations for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. In the Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series category, Viola Davis snatched a nomination for her part in that Scandal/HTGAWM crossover episode, and Samira Wiley joins her for her role as Moira in Handmaids Tale. Black women are recognized in just about every category for women.
Finally, in the year 2018, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is embracing Black women as dynamic assets to TV. What a time to be alive.