As last night’s Emmy telecast drew to a close, one thing was glaringly apparent. In 2012, the Emmys didn’t care about black actors. Out of all of the categories, there were three African-Americans nominated. Don Cheadle earned a nomination for his role on “House of Lies” in the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. He lost his trophy to Louis C.K. Maya Rudolph secured herself a nod for hosting “Saturday Night Live.” She went away empty handed in favor of Kathy Bates. By the end of the show, our only hope was for Idris Elba to win for his deserving portrayal of John Luther on the hit show “Luther.” When he lost, it was made evident black actors are facing another exclusion from the small screen.
The notion black actors are being shut out of acting recognition isn’t something new, however, it’s cemented with this fall’s upcoming television programming season. For all of the new fall shows premiering, only a handful feature black actors. According to Elev8.com‘s report, networks have reverted back to the practice of not creating diverse roles for people of color. Though the bright spot in that dark cloud is Andre Braugher returning to television in ABC’s “Last Resort.” Even though he has been awarded two Emmy statues, it still feels as if the Emmy voters threw him a bone without fully appreciating his work.
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In 2010, veteran actress Regina King wrote a heated piece blasting the Emmys for their lack of diverse nominations. Despite delivering some of the best acting on television on “Southland”, King has never received a nod for playing gritty detective Lydia Adams. 2011’s Emmy ceremony saw a diverse group of black actors in the running for awards. Perhaps, that had a little something to do with the bad publicity the Emmys endured because of Regina King’s outrage.
We asked our followers on Twitter how they felt about the Emmys being an indication of the lack of recognition of black actors’ work and the response was generally the same. Many said, “What else is new?” Others wondered why there hasn’t been an urban category created. While the suggestion of an urban category is a decent idea, it’s troublesome because depending on the arena, the word “urban” is used as a euphemism when some whites want to call us the n-word, but don’t want to seem politically incorrect. Nevertheless, that really wouldn’t fly in our community. A few followers reminded that we still have the NAACP Image Awards. While the Image Awards do acknowledge black actors’ work, they tend to nominate actors because of their star profile instead of their acting ability. Need we mention Halle Berry getting nominated for her role in “Frankie & Alice” last year despite the film not having been released yet?
Sure, black actors being ignored when it comes award season is nothing new. But why should that reasoning continue to be allowed? I’m not asking for some type of entertainment affirmative action where a black actor gets a nomination just because they have an abundance of melanin and talent. At least hand out nominations based on merit and not potential ratings for the telecast.
For next year’s Emmy ceremony, Kerry Washington should be recognized with a nomination for her hard-hitting role on ABC’s hit political drama “Scandal.” Not only is she the first African-American woman to lead a network drama, she is damn good at embodying Olivia Pope. If Kerry Washington doesn’t receive a nod, I give up because the Emmys would officially have said to the black television watching community, “Your people’s ability mean not a damn thing to us.” And there’s no way to Olivia-Pope-speed-talk their way out of that realization.
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