The Primetime Emmys showed substantial progress this year in recognizing African-American thesps, who received 18 nominations across all acting categories — easily eclipsing last year’s record high of 11 noms.
The best actress, drama category set a first-time record with two African-American nominees: Viola Davis from ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder and Taraji P. Henson from Fox’s Empire. In the best supporting actress, limited series/movie slot, three African American actresses were recognized: Angela Basset (American Horror Story: Freak Show), Regina King (American Crime) and Mo’Nique (Bessie).
“This is absolutely a great sign,” Davis said of the recognition. “It’s the fact that television has expanded. There are different networks, therefore there are different narratives. They have to be inclusive of sheer numbers. I just feel it’s our time. We have a black president, a black first lady. Looking at the global world in a homogenized way doesn’t work any more…. We look at the world differently now. When I was young, it was The Brady Bunch and Sanford and Son. If you were Hispanic you liked Disco. If you were white you liked Rock n’. Roll. The world doesn’t work that way anymore. It’s a case of art imitating life.”
As evidence of just how long overdue such recognition has been, 2014 marked a high point for black performers not seen in the 37 years since Roots won nine nominations (and ultimately trophies for Olivia Cole and Louis Gossett Jr). In 2013, Kerry Washington’s portrayal of Olivia Pope in ABC’s Scandal landed her a best actress drama nom — the first for a black actress since 1995, when Cicely Tyson earned an actress nod for NBC’s Sweet Justice. (Washington earned a second nom last year as well.)
SOURCE: Anthony D’Alessandro