Here Are 7 Reasons To Care About the 2015 Emmy Awards

Viola_DavisWe are not fans of award shows. More often than not, they are just a big celebration of White Privilege and a reminder of how left out minorities and women are. Sunday night’s 2015 Emmy Awards was different though. They gave us a few reasons to celebrate which, hopefully, signal a sea change in the awards industry overall.

1. So Many Minority Nominees

Literally everywhere you turned, there were non-white nominees. In many cases, there were multiple minority nominees within the same category. It would seem that Hollywood is actually becoming more diverse, even at the awards level, though I need to see this happen for a few more years before I actually believe it to be true.

2. Regina King Won for Best Guest Actress (“American Crime”)

She seemed totally shocked, but her win was well deserved for her stunning work on American Crime. She took the stage with grace, paused for a long embrace from Taraji P. Henson, and did her best to thank everyone. And her heartfelt gratitude towards her son, her date for the evening, was the show’s first instance of tear-inducing emotion. And all this was underscored by an enthusiastic “Yasss” from Henson. This was a beautiful moment.

3. Uzo Aduba Scored Back-To-Back Wins for Supporting Actress

The world already loves Uzo Aduba. Her acceptance speech from last year was memorable enough. But her win this year made history. She is the second person ever (the first woman and the first Black person) to win for the same role in two different categories (drama and comedy) after Ed Asner. And when she cried, we all cried with her.

4. That Damn Apple Commercial

Say what we may about Apple, there is no denying the #BlackGirlMagic in their new Apple Music ad. They went intergenerational, pulling Mary J. Blige, Taraji P. Henson, and Kerry Washington together for a TV spot that featured them dancing to party anthems, new and old. It felt lively and real, like they really get together and do these things in their spare time. And surely some of that magic was due to the ad’s director, the one and only Ava DuVernay.

5. Tracy Morgan’s Surprise Appearance

Tracy Morgan may still be on the mend from his tragic car accident last year, but in his surprise appearance, he showed that he still got jokes. It was inspirational to see him walk to center stage all by himself, and the outpouring of love and support from the crowd was palpable. And just when you thought the moment would be all warm and heartfelt, he made a crack about getting people pregnant at the after parties. Same ol’ Tracy Morgan.

6. Viola Davis’ Triumphant Acceptance Speech

By far the most standout moment of the night was when Viola Davis took the stage to accept her Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series (the first Black winner ever). She did everything right, firmly planting her feet and taking a deep breath before launching into a legendary speech.

She opened with a quote from Harriet Tubman that captivated the audience in person and watching around the world. And its symbolism was likely not lost on anyone.

“I see a line. And over that line I see green fields and flowers and beautiful White women with their arms stretched out to me…but I can’t seem to get there no how.”

She then shifted to a bold statement about the worth of Black actresses in an industry that under-utilizes them.

“The only thing that separates women of color from anybody else is opportunity. You can’t win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

From there, she shouted out Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, Halle Berry, Nicole Beharie, Meagan Good, and Gabrielle Union, all fellow Black and undeniably talented actresses that have helped in “taking us over that line.”


7. Taraji P. Henson’s Unequivocal Solidarity

Though she may have left the show empty-handed, Taraji P. Henson must have felt like a winner. She showed what real solidarity is about, giving Viola Davis a standing ovation. And her joy at Regina King winning was apparent. In everything she did, she showed that you can win without getting an award. A win for Regina King or Viola Davis is a win for all Black actresses. And she earned the title “Head Cheerleader of the Sisterhood.”

In all, it was a legendary night. For the first time in a long time, it felt good to be Black while watching an American awards show.


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Daren W. Jackson

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.