For Black Folks, the 2015 Emmy Nominations are a Premature Celebration

empire-season-2We live in a world where the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series category includes Taraji P. Henson (Cookie Lyon on Empire) and Viola Davis (Annalise Keating on How To Get Away With Murder). Yes, two BLACK actresses nominated at the same time in the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series category.

This is history. It is also only a minor victory.

In many ways, we are still fighting for equality in the entertainment industry. Equal representation, equal treatment, and equal acclaim. And this year’s record 64% gain in representation of Black actors, 18 versus last year’s 11, may make people feel like the battle is won (nominees: Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, David Oyelowo, Queen Latifah, Andre Braugher, Anthony Anderson, Don Cheadle, Uzo Aduba, Reg. E. Cathey, Cicely Tyson, Khandi Alexander, Keegan-Michael Kay, Tituss Burgess, Niecy Nash, Michael Kenneth Williams, Regina King, Angela Bassett, and Mo’Nique). But, did Barack Obama winning the presidency of the United States mean that racism was over? Did it mean that all people’s has a truly representative body of elected officials? Of course not.

Just yesterday, Nicki Minaj tweeted about racism in the music industry only to face backlash from Taylor Swift, mainstream media, and her minions.

Clearly, the Emmy Awards nominations represent progress. But only measured progress.

First and foremost, this change has been mostly driven by cable’s domination. Overall, broadcast networks counted 161 total nominations, while cable networks raked in 248 and streaming platforms earned 47. These outlets, including streaming sources like Netflix, have quickly become the go-to places for progressive and creative content. And as that reliance has grown, diverse representation has followed for the drama-heavy carriers. But cable series largely have smaller audiences. Network stand out American Crime is the only network series to crack the top 10. And even in its brilliance as a series, it still struggles with viewership. In truth, the majority of eyeballs are watching shows on CBS, an outlet that is known to be lacking in diversity.

What many are overlooking in this year’s nominations slate, is what the whole body of noms represent. It’s easy to focus on the aberrations like the Violas and Tarajis. It is much more difficult to take a look at the full nominations list and be critical of the largely White everything else.

This isn’t meant to undermine the deserved nominations of any awards contenders. This is to undermine the entire faulty foundation of Hollywood. As we’ve stated time and again, “liberal” Hollywood has taken “bold” steps toward diversity. Television, moving quicker than film, has begun producing shows and casts more representative of the country’s population. However, that does not mean that we have to look at the Emmy’s from a “take what we can get” perspective.

That’s what Mo’Nique, a nominee herself, had to say:

“This trend makes sense, it’s going toward a great direction. But still, we have to say 18 nominations and it’s 2015? How long have the Emmys been going on? I’ll be glad when it’s 25 or 50 if it’s fair and it just makes sense.”

Black people are talented but still sorely underrepresented both in front of and behind the camera. While I can look at this year’s nominees and congratulate them for finally being recognized for their hard work, I can’t dismiss the many that could be doing the same if not for the white-centric casting trends in Hollywood.

 

 

See the full nomination list below:

OUTSTANDING DRAMA (2014 winner: Breaking Bad)
Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange Is the New Black

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A DRAMA (2014 winner: Bryan Cranston)
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA (2014 winner: Julianna Margulies)
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Robin Wright, House of Cards

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA (2014 winner: Anna Gunn)
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA (2014 winner: Aaron Paul)
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA (2014 winner: Allison Janney)
Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones
Rachel Brosnahan, House of Cards
Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away With Murder
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Khandi Alexander, Scandal
Margo Martindale, The Americans

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA (2014 winner: Joe Morton)
Alan Alda, The Blacklist
Michael J Fox, The Good Wife
F. Murray Abraham, Homeland
Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards
Beau Bridges, Masters of Sex
Pablo Schreiber, Orange Is the New Black

OUTSTANDING COMEDY (2014 winner: Modern Family)
Louie
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
Silicon Valley
Transparent
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Veep

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY (2014 winner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A COMEDY (2014 winner: Jim Parsons)
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Will Forte, Last Man on Earth
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY (2014 winner: Allison Janney)
Niecy Nash, Getting On
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY (2014 winner: Ty Burrell)
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver, Girls
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, Veep

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY (2014 winner: Uzo Aduba)
Gaby Hoffmann, Girls
Pamela Adlon, Louie
Elizabeth Banks, Modern Family
Joan Cusack, Shameless
Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Tina Fey, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY (2014 winner: Jimmy Fallon, SNL)
Mel Brooks, The Comedians
Paul Giamatti, Inside Amy Schumer
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Louis C.K., Saturday Night Live
Bradley Whitford, Transparent
Jon Hamm, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

OUTSTANDING REALITY SHOW HOST (2014 winner: Jane Lynch)
Tom Bergeron, DWTS
Jane Lynch, Hollywood Game Night
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, Project Runway
Cat Deeley, SYTYCD
Anthony Bourdain, The Taste

OUTSTANDING REALITY SHOW COMPETITION (2014 winner: Amazing Race)
The Amazing Race
Dancing With the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
Top Chef
The Voice

OUTSTANDING VARIETY, MUSIC, OR COMEDY SERIES (2014 winner: Colbert Report)
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight
Late Show With David Letterman
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES
American Crime
American Horror Story: Freak Show
The Honorable Woman
Olive Kitterridge
Wolf Hall

OUTSTANDING TV MOVIE
Agatha Christie’s Poirot — Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case
Bessie
race of Monaco
Hello Ladies: The Movie
Killing Jesus
Nightingale

LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE (2014 winner: Jessica Lange)
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Queen Latifah, Bessie
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Emma Thompson, Sweeney Todd

LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE (2014 winner: Benedict Cumberbatch)
Timothy Hutton, American Crime
Ricky Gervais, Derek Special
Adrien Brody, Houdini
David Oyelowo, Nightingale
Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE (2014 winner: Kathy Bates)
Regina King, American Crime
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Mo’Nique, Bessie
Zoe Kazan, Olive Kitteridge

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE (2014 winner: Martin Freeman)
Richard Cabral, American Crime
Denis O’Hare, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Finn Wittrock, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Michael Kenneth Williams, Bessie
Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall

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Daren W. Jackson

Co-Founder/Editor
Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.