Big Nights for Diversity at Creative Emmys Ceremonies

If the recently completed Creative Arts Emmys ceremonies are any indication, actors, producers and writers of color could have a very memorable night at Monday’s primetime Emmys event.

A record 38 people of color were nominated for primetime Emmys, and several took home statuettes during Creative Emmy ceremonies this past Saturday (Sept. 8) and Sunday (Sept. 9). Much has already been made of the sweep by African-American actors of the Emmys' guest acting categories -- This Is Us's Ron Cephas Jones (guest actor drama series); The Handmaid’s Tale’s Samira Wiley (guest actress drama series); Atlanta’s Katt Williams (guest actor comedy series) and Saturday Night Live’s Tiffany Haddish (guest actress comedy series) -- as well as John Legend’s historic Emmy win for co-producing Fox's variety special Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert, making him the first African-American male to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony award (the coveted EGOT).

RuPaul's Drag Race

RuPaul's Drag Race

Also walking away with Emmys were RuPaul, whose show RuPaul’s Drag Race won four Emmys, including outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition program; W. Kamau Bell, who won two Emmys for his CNN docuseries United Shades of America W. Kamau Bell, and comedy legend Dave Chappelle, who took home the outstanding variety special statuette for his Netflix comedy show Equanimity. (FXX will air an edited replay of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 15.)

The industry will be watching NBC's live Emmys telecast Monday to see if Atlanta’s Donald Glover and This Is Us’s Sterling K. Brown can capture Emmys magic again in the lead actor in a comedy and drama categories, respectfully, and if Sandra Oh can become the first woman of Asian descent to win the best actress in a drama Emmy.

Also, the absence of six-time consecutive Emmy winner Julia Louis Dreyfus from the best actress in a comedy category could allow first-time nominated actress Issa Rae (Insecure) or multiple Emmy-nominated actress Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish) to win Emmy gold.

Other actors such as Antonio Banderas (Genius: Picasso); Thandie Newton (Westworld); Zazie Beetz (Atlanta); and Leslie Jones and Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live) will also vie for television’s highest honors.

Even if none of these actors win any hardware Monday, it can't diminish what has already been a strong showing for people of color at the 70th annual Emmys Awards. 

Network Emmys Tally Through the Creative Awards Ceremonies

Network                                   Program                           Individual                                Total

HBO                                                4                                      13                                          17

Netflix                                             5                                     11                                           16

NBC                                                1                                      14                                          15

FX                                                   0                                        5                                            8

National Geographic                    0                                       5                                           5

Hulu                                               0                                        4                                            4

VH1                                                0                                        4                                            4

Fox                                                 0                                        3                                            3

Prime Video                                  0                                        3                                           3

Source: TV Academy

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.