#EmmysSoWhite…but weren’t they always?


Michaela Coel, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jason Sudeikis and Kate Winslet pictured with their Emmy wins.

When it comes to award shows, one of the most well known is the Primetime Emmys. Even after 71 years, approximately 7.4 million people continue to tune in yearly to see if their favorite actors, shows and movies take home an award, especially in the 12 main acting categories. 

Over the seven decades that the show has aired, viewers have watched the diversity of the nominees and winners grow and grow. However during this year’s show we watched the Emmys take a huge step back in terms of diversity. 

For the first time in several years, no people of color won in any of the 12 acting categories. This was a huge step back for the Emmys, especially in comparison to last year when actors of color won in all 12 categories. Even front runners like Billy Porter, Regé-Jean Page, M.J Rodriguez, and Tracee Ellis Ross faced upsets to their white counterparts.

The lack of diversity in Emmy winners was especially concerning, especially considering the fact that 49 actors of color were nominated across the 12 categories. But was the lack of diversity shocking or a surprise?

Systemic racism has always been a part of awards shows. From non-diverse governing boards to predominantly white nominees and winners, the Emmys have never been diverse. The problem isn’t that this is the first time the Emmys haven’t been diverse, the problem is that people are realizing just how racist the Emmys actually are. 

However not all Emmy wins upset viewers. Outside of the main acting categories, women of color and LGBTQ+ people of color had major wins. 

Debbie Allen and Micheala Coel won the governor’s award and outstanding writing in  a limited anthology series (respectively), showing the power  of women of color in the media. 

RuPaul Charles also won an Emmy for outstanding competition program, making him the most decorated black artist in Emmy history. 

The wins for these creatives cannot be discounted  or discredited, but are the few wins in these  categories enough to make the lack of colored winners in the other categories less problematic?  

This year’s Primetime Emmys opened the eyes of many viewers, and forced the public to become aware of the systemic racism still prevalent in the media.