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Emmy Nominations set records for diversity

Jul 14, 2021

Diversity showed up strong at the Primetime Emmy Nominations with a record 49 non-Anglo nominees recognised in the acting and reality hosting categories, +17% over last year’s diversity record of 42 nominees.

Of this morning’s 49 nominees, 43 were actors in the drama series, limited, comedy, supporting and guest categories — the biggest number we’ve ever seen to date besting 2020 and 2018’s actor diversity record which tied at 36 nominations. Similar to last year, six nominees in the reality/competition hosting category were of colour.

Of today’s tally, Kenan Thompson counted two nominations, in the Lead Actor Comedy series category for Kenan and in Supporting Actor Comedy Series for SNL. 

Recently cancelled HBO drama series Lovecraft Country led the charge for diversity with 18 nominations. Of that number, five are Black Actors including Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors (who received their first Emmy noms respectively in Lead Actress and Lead Actor), as well as Aunjanue Ellis (who received her 2nd nom, this time in Supporting Actress Drama Series), Courtney B. Vance (who received his 2nd, this time in Guest Actor Drama; he’s already won Lead Actor for Limited Series for his turn in 2016’s American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson) and Michael Kenneth Williams who received his 5th nom, this time in Supporting Actor Drama.

Disney+’s Broadway musical feature Hamilton delivered on the diversity front in a big way as well with six of its 12 nominations. The six include the Tony-winning musical’s architect and star Lin-Manuel Miranda in the Lead Actor Limited/Anthology Series/Movie category along with Leslie Odom Jr. in the same slot, plus Renée Elise Goldsberry and Phillipa Soo in Supporting Actress Limited/Anthology Series/Movie, and Daveed Diggs and Anthony Ramos in Supporting Actor.

In addition to Thompson, there were many other multiple Emmy nominees from diverse backgrounds including Sterling K. Brown, who clocked his 8th and 9th Emmy nom with his 5th nom in Lead Actor Drama Series for NBC/20th Television’s This Is Us as Randall Pearson as well as a nomination in the Narrator category for Lincoln: Divided We Stand. Brown already has two Emmy wins in 2016 for American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson in Supporting Actor Limited Series and 2017 for Lead Actor Drama Series for This Is Us.

I May Destroy You creator Michaela Coel landed a Limited Series Actress nomination as well as noms for directing and writing on the HBO series.

Maya Rudolph was a double nominee in the Guest Actress Comedy Series category for her SNL turn as VP Kamala Harris as well as Character Voice-Over for Big Mouth. She won for both categories and both shows last year. This morning repped a career total of eight Emmy noms to date.

Dave Chappelle, already a 4x Emmy winner, was nominated in the Guest Actor Comedy Series for his hosting duties on SNL as well as directing and writing a variety series, his 8:46 – Dave Chappelle. 

A huge breakthrough came for Mj Rodriguez of FX’s Pose who made Emmy history becoming the first transgender nominee in the Lead Actress Drama Series category for playing Blanca. Overall GLAAD heralded Pose for its historic nominations including Billy Porter for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his turn as Pray Tell in the FX series, and a nomination in Outstanding Drama. Porter counted his third Emmy nom for Pose this morning; he took home a Drama Series Lead Actor trophy for the series back in 2019.

GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis exclaimed, “Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez’s Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series is a breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of POSE,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Additionally, the show’s nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, as well as Billy Porter’s third nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, mark a historic show that undoubtedly raised the bar for trans representation on television and changed the way viewers around the world understand the trans community.

In total here’s a breakdown of how diversity is represented in 2021’s Emmy nominees:

In the Reality Competition Hosting categories the nominees are RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Padma Lakshmi (Top Chef), Daymond John (Shark Tank), Nicole Byer (Nailed It!), and Tan France and Karamo Brown (Queer Eye).

In the acting categories those recognised are Anthony Anderson (Lead Actor Comedy Series, black-ish), Kenan Thompson (Lead Actor Comedy Series, Kenan and Supporting Actor Comedy SNL), Tracee Ellis Ross (Lead Actress Comedy Series, black-ish), Uzo Aduba (Lead Actress Drama Series, In Treatment), Mj Rodriguez (Lead Actress Drama Series, Pose), Jurnee Smollett (Lead Actress Drama Series, Lovecraft Country), Sterling K. Brown (Lead Actor Drama Series, This Is Us), Jonathan Majors (Lead Actor Drama Series, Lovecraft Country), Regé-Jean Page (Lead Actor Drama Series, Bridgerton), Billy Porter (Lead Actor Drama Series, Pose), Michael Coel (Lead Actress, Limited Series, I May Destroy You), Cynthia Erivo (Lead Actress Limited Series, Genius: Aretha), Anya Taylor-Joy (Lead Actress Limited Series, The Queen’s Gambit), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lead Actor Limited/Anthology Series/Movie category, Hamilton), Leslie Odom Jr (Lead Actor Limited Series, Hamilton), Aunjanue Ellis (Supporting Actress Drama, Lovecraft Country), Samira Wiley (Supporting Actress Drama Series, Handmaid’s Tale), Giancarlo Esposito (Supporting Actor Drama Series, The Mandalorian), O-T Fagbenie (Supporting Actor Drama, Handmaid’s Tale), Max Minghella (Supporting Actor Drama, Handmaid’s Tale), Michael Kenneth Williams (Supporting Actor Drama, Lovecraft Country), Rosie Perez (Supporting Actress Comedy, The Flight Attendant), Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Supporting Actor Comedy Series, Hacks), Nick Mohammed (Supporting Actor Comedy Series, Ted Lasso), Bowen Yang (Supporting Actor Comedy Series, SNL), Moses Ingram (Supporting Actress Limited Series, Queen’s Gambit), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Supporting Actress Limited/Movie, Hamilton), Phillipa Soo (Supporting Actress Limited/Anthology Series/Movie, Hamilton), Daveed Diggs (Supporting Actor Limited Series/Movie, Hamilton), Anthony Ramos (Supporting Actor Limited Series/Movie, Hamilton), Paapa Essiedu (Supporting Actor Limited Series, I May Destroy You), Alexis Bledel (Guest Actress Drama, Handmaid’s Tale), Sophie Okonedo (Guest Actress Drama, Ratched), Phylicia Rashad (Guest Actress Drama, This Is Us), Don Cheadle (Guest Actor Drama, Falcon and the Winter Soldier), Courtney B. Vance (Guest Actor Drama, Lovecraft Country), Carl Weathers (Guest Actor Drama, The Mandalorian), Yvette Nicole Brown (Guest Actress Comedy, A Black Lady Sketch Show), Issa Rae (Guest Actress Comedy, A Black Lady Sketch Show), Maya Rudolph (Guest Actress Comedy, SNL), Dave Chappelle (Guest Actor Comedy, SNL), Daniel Kaluuya (Guest Actor Comedy, SNL), and Morgan Freeman (Guest Actor Comedy, The Kominsky Method).

Cover photo: Top row, L to R: Kenan Thompson, Mj Rodriguez, Sterling K. Brown. Bottom L to R: Jurnee Smollett, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Bowen Yang


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