Emmy Noms Give Diversity Champions a Lot to Cheer About

The big winners of the 2017 Emmy Awards nominations were HBO and Netflix with their combined 200+ nominations, along with shows like This Is Us, Westworld and Saturday Night Live.

Diversity also took center stage in Los Angeles during Thursday’s Emmy’s nominations program as a record number of actors of color received nominations for their outstanding performances on the small screen, from Emmy veterans like Viola Davis, Regina King and Anthony Anderson to newcomers like Snoop Dogg and Donald Glover.

Some of the top Emmy nominated shows also featured multiple nominations for actors of color. HBO’s Westworld drew a scripted series-high 22 nominations, including nominations for Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright for best supporting actress and actor in a drama, respectively.

Sterling K. Brown – who won an Emmy last year for his role in FX’s People v. O.J. Simpson – was nominated in the lead actor in a drama series category along with Ron Cephas Jones for best supporting actor in a drama and Brian Tyree Henry for guest drama actor for their roles in the 11-time Emmy nominated drama This Is Us.

Both Westworld and This Is Us were also nominated for best drama series.

Related: Strong Rookie Class Vies for Emmy Nods

The record number of Emmy nominations for actors of color comes despite some arguably glaring Emmy snubs. Voters for the major series and acting categories showed no love for HBO’s Insecure and its star Issa Rae or Oprah Winfrey’s performance in the pay service’s original movie The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – although the series is nominated in the best TV movie category. Also, last year’s Emmy winner in the best actor in a drama series category Rami Malek won’t be back to defend his title after not getting nominated for his starring role in USA’s Mr. Robot.

Still, there’s a lot for diversity champions to cheer about, even as a noticeable number of shows with lead actors of color are no longer on the air. Shows like Netflix’s The Get Down and Sense8, Fox’s Pitch, Hulu’s East Los High, WGN’s Underground, ABC’s American Crime and most recently NBC’s The Carmichael Show have all left broadcast, cable network and video streaming service lineups, taking with them some of the momentum the industry had been building with regards to showcasing diverse images and stories on screen.

As long as the industry continues to keep its focus on the inclusion of images and stories derived from a wide and diverse source of talented individuals, there will continue to be a large pool of deserving performances from which the TV academy can choose its best and brightest to honor.

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.