Emmy diver­sity gets a boost

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - ENTERTAINMENT NEWS - BY LYNN ELBER

LOS AN­GE­LES — Ster­ling K. Brown and Don­ald Glover aren’t such Emmy out­liers this year.

More than a third of the 101 act­ing nom­i­na­tions for the 70th Prime­time Emmy Awards went to eth­nic mi­nori­ties, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis by The As­so­ci­ated Press. That’s up from a quarter of the field last year, when Brown (“This Is Us”) and Glover (“At­lanta”) won top act­ing awards.

Both men are nom­i­nated again, along with note­wor­thy first-timers in­clud­ing Latino ac­tors Ricky Martin and Pene­lope Cruz for “The As­sas­si­na­tion of Gianni Ver­sace: Amer­i­can Crime Story,” Tiffany Had­dish for “Satur­day Night Live,” Issa Rae for “In­se­cure” and John Leg­end for “Je­sus Christ Su­per­star Live in Con­cert.” Dar­ren Criss, who is of Filipino de­scent, also was nom­i­nated for “Amer­i­can Crime Story.”

San­dra Oh, the Cana­di­an­born ac­tress of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame, be­came the first nom­i­nee of Asian de­scent in the lead­ing drama ac­tress cat­e­gory. Oh, who earned five sup­port­ing ac­tress bids for “Grey’s,” has earned crit­i­cal praise for her role as a spy hunt­ing a fe­male as­sas­sin in BBC Amer­ica’s “Killing Eve.”

“I think we’re all happy with the di­rec­tion we’re go­ing. This is the most di­verse class of per­former nom­i­nees we’ve had … which is fan­tas­tic,” Maury McIn­tyre, TV academy pres­i­dent, said Thurs­day af­ter the nom­i­na­tions for the Sept. 17 awards were an­nounced.

Only one of this year’s cat­e­gories, sup­port­ing ac­tor in a drama, lacked any per­form­ers of color. In three cat­e­gories, more than half the field are mi­nori­ties.

That in­cludes sup­port­ing ac­tor in a com­edy se­ries, with black ac­tors Ti­tuss Bur­guss (“Un­break­able Kimmy Sch­midt”), Brian Tyree Henry (“At­lanta”) and Ke­nan Thomp­son (“Satur­day Night Live”) and Tony Shal­houb (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), of Le­banese de­scent, com­pet­ing with Louie An­der­son (“Bas­kets”) Alec Bald­win (“Satur­day Night Live”) and Henry Win­kler (“Barry”).

In 2017, the nom­i­na­tions showed sig­nif­i­cant gaps in Emmy progress. “Mas­ter of None” star Aziz An­sari, who is of In­dian her­itage, was the sole Asian-Amer­i­can to be nom­i­nated for a con­tin­u­ing se­ries lead or sup­port­ing role. Not a sin­gle Latino was in­cluded in the mar­quee act­ing cat­e­gories.

The hard-won progress made by the AfricanAmer­i­can stars and mak­ers of shows in­clud­ing “black-ish” and “At­lanta” has brought them cre­ative in­flu­ence and vis­i­bil­ity that Lati­nos and Asian-Amer­i­cans, Amer­ica’s first and third largest eth­nic groups, re­spec­tively, are still aim­ing to achieve. The three eth­nic groups make up a com­bined 37.2 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to U.S. Cen­sus fig­ures.

The TV in­dus­try has faced pres­sure to change in re­cent years, in­clud­ing from a multi-eth­nic civil rights coali­tion formed af­ter ma­jor net­works fielded a fall 1999 slate of new shows with only white stars. Net­works and pro­duc­ers have taken steps to boost op­por­tu­ni­ties, but with un­even re­sults.

Leonard James III, chair­main of the NAACP Im­age Awards com­mit­tee, said last year that a long record of fight­ing for civil rights is be­hind the sig­nif­i­cant African-Amer­i­can gains.

“We’ve been en­gaged with the Hol­ly­wood com­mu­nity for 100 years,” James said, in­clud­ing NAACP-led protests against D.W. Grif­fith’s “The Birth of a Na­tion” in 1915, just six years af­ter the or­ga­ni­za­tion was founded. “I think you’re be­gin­ning to see some of that work get very pos­i­tive re­sults.”

PHOTO BY HBO VIA AP

Issa Rae acts in a scene from “In­se­cure.” Rae was nom­i­nated Thurs­day for an Emmy for out­stand­ing lead ac­tress in a com­edy se­ries. The 70th Emmy Awards will be held on Sept. 17.

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