70th Emmy's Proves To Lack Diversity Like Many Award Shows
Last night’s Emmy Awards opened up with host and Saturday Night Live comedians Colin Jost and Michael Che. Black excellence was in attendance yet scarcely acknowledged during one of TV’s biggest nights.
The ceremony opened with a monologue by Che and Jost jokingly touching on the issues of diversity in the awards / film industry, the ME-TOO movement and even the not so funny movement white people have come up with by calling the cops on people of color, made famous by BBQ Becky.
The two went as far comparing Hulu’s a Handmaid’s Tale to slavery for whites, Roots with a bonnet. Did you laugh? It’s fine, no judgement. Yet the laughs didn’t stop there when they inserted a segment entitled Reparations Emmy.
“Reparation Emmys” were awarded to many of our beloved Black actors like Tichina Arnold and Jaleel White, who should’ve gotten Emmys in their careers but never did; sounds all too familiar. Again, poking the award-injustice-bear, plainly addressing the injustice the underrepresented face when it comes to awards season, especially in film and television.
I think it’s safe to say, its’ time to stop joking about serious issues. It's mind blowing to watch every year award shows take the time out to address a reacquiring issue such as minorities not getting the awards they deserve only to turn around and still not award them their due; it leaves you wondering why even bring the topic up. Shows that vastly include and depict the lives of the underrepresented are out there, it's not like they don't exists. Shows like Black-ish and Atlanta not only portrays a diverse cast that speak on the topics minorities face everyday but also touch on topics to which even our white peers can relate to. Actors like Tracee Ellis Ross, Anthony Anderson, Zazie Beetz or Brian Tyree Henry should not have went home empty handed. "Black shows" already have the tough job of trying to stay true to its community while still being "acceptable black" to it's white gate keepers.
We all knew Issa Rae should’ve taken the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy home. This is undebatable, 30-40 percent of Insecure viewers are Black, which means a large majority of viewers are white. I know someone on the Emmy's board has to be apart of the Lawrence hive, so why didn't she win ?
For three hours we watched category after category get called only to watch two people of color take home an award. Congratulations to Regina King for taking home the first win for the culture, winning an Emmy for Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for Seven Seconds and Thandie Newton for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series.
Sandra Oh, known to many as Dr. Cristina Yang from ABC's hit series Grey's Anatomy, made history at the Emmys as being the first women of Asian descent to be nominated for best lead actress in a drama series for her role on BBC America series "Killing Eve."
Over Oh's three decade career, she has received five Emmy nominations for best supporting actress in a drama series for Grey's Anatomy but never won. Yet, [they] applaud and congratulate her on a job well done and cry and write blog post murals when her character moved to Switzerland thus leaving the show all together. If they gatekeepers were so touched by the actress' performance, prove it to her during the awards season.
Yet, we cry over the lack of diversity and representation in the industry at these award shows but we have actors like Scarlett Johansson who get casted for roles written for an Asian actresses, like in Ghosts in the Shell or the talks of her playing Mahatma Ghandi in an upcoming bio that's set to be written and directed by Woody Allen. Ghandi ? Hollywood is really going to let Scarlett Johansson play Ghandi? I guess Priyanka Chora and Tabu aren't Indian enough for those roles.
Award shows have proved over and over that as a minority actor, no matter how much you're praised, the idea of giving you the award you deserve and have worked decades for is just too much to bare.
Letitia Wright was amongst others who got robbed out of an award for outstanding supporting actress in a limited series on Black Mirror . Wright played Nish, a black women who finds her way to the "Black Museum," which houses a collection of criminological artifacts, by it's white, race-hating rich proprietor, Rolo Haynes, played by Douglas Hode. Haynes takes Nish on a tour through the museum, telling her the horrific stories behind each artifact. It turns out the Nish is not your regular out of town tourist but instead the daughter of the museum's main attraction-- Clayton Leigh, who's hologram is imprisoned and tortured by the museums visitors. Long story short, Nish gets her revenge when she plants Haynes' consciousness inside her father's virtual body and executes him before setting fire to the museum. Restitution at it's finest if you consider the torture Blacks went through during the Tuskegee experiments.
Yet the Emmy's couldn't see the deeper message behind this episode and robbed Wright out of an award that clearly had her name written all over it.
However, history has shown us that this series of events are far from new. 2016 was the year of Beyonce. The global superstar put out her critically acclaimed solo studio album, Lemonade, and the affect it had, not just to people of color but to women--and even some men--across board was unmatched.
Lemonade put women on a journey to self-knowledge and healing. So when the 2017 Grammy's come rolling by it was no question that Lemonade would take home best album of the year. SIKE! The award for best album of the year instead went to Adele for her album 25 and Lemonade won best urban contemporary album; I couldn't help but think of segregated water fountains when I heard she won "best urban contemporary album."
While Adele, herself was shocked by the win and praised Beyonce , the gatekeepers had spoken and the decision was made clear. All the praise Lemonade and Beyonce had received just wasn't enough to snatch the Grammy.
Furthermore down the award robbery highway, back at the 2014 Grammys when Macklemore won best rap album for The Heist, beating out albums by Kanye West, Drake, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar. Again, Macklemore stated that he felt like Kendrick should've won for Good.Kid.Maad.City. But again, the gatekeepers had spoken, not even in your own genre are we going to let you win.
Entertainers of minority backgrounds are only praised when it comes to magazine covers or in interviews because the masses are talking about them. It's almost as if it's a scheme to make them feel welcomed in the industry. Yet on the biggest nights, amongst their "peers" they're reminded that there isn't a seat at the winners table for them.