Although this year’s Primetime Emmy nominations are still extremely white and far from cutting-edge (seriously, how is “The Big Bang Theory” still getting nominations? And how did they pass over Gina Rodriguez in “Jane the Virgin,” or Benito Martinez in “American Crime”?!), several notable performers of color received due recognition for their work in what’s been one of the most racially-diverse primetime seasons in a while.
Among those announced by Cat Deeley and Uzo Aduba (herself a nominee for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for “Orange is the New Black”) today, in a ceremony at Hollywood’s SilverScreen Theater were prominent stars of new or emergent series that ground issues of race at their center: Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) for Lead Actress in a Drama, Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”) for Lead Actor in a Comedy, and Keegan Michael-Key (“Key and Peele”) for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy. Henson is going head-to-head with Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”), while Anderson faces off against Don Cheadle (“House of Lies”); Key, meanwhile, squares against both Andre Brougher (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) and Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”).
In lesser-known categories, actors and actresses of color were also highlighted. Cicely Tyson (“How To Get Away With Murder”) and Khandi Alexander (“Scandal”) both received nominations in the Guest Actress in a Drama category, playing the mothers of creator Shonda Rimes’ respective female protagonists. Reg E. Cathey (“House of Cards”) was also nominated in the Guest Actor in a Drama category.
Additionally, “Selma” star David Oyelowo (“Nightingale”) was nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. Queen Latifah (“Bessie”) was nominated in the Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie category, while Regina King (“American Crime”), Mo’ Nique (“Bessie”) and Angela Bassett (“American Horror Story: Freak Show”) were nominated in the respective Supporting Actress category.
While these were the only notable actors and actresses of color listed in the nominations today, several acclaimed shows prominently featuring performers of color—”Silicon Valley,” “Game of Thrones” and “Saturday Night Live” among them—were nominated for multiple awards. Meanwhile, for anybody paying attention this far, both Neil DeGrasse Tyson (“Hubble’s Cosmic Journey”) and Anthony Mendez (“Jane the Virgin”) were nominated in the Narration category.
The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast on September 20 on Fox with host Andy Samberg.