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Emmys 2021: Performers of color shut out of lead and supporting actor races

People on social media were quick to notice the lack of representation reflected in those taking home the statuettes for the lead and supporting actor categories.
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Out of the 12 acting categories at Sunday’s Emmy Awards ceremony, not a single actor of color won a performance award, despite the record number of diverse nominees this year.

A record number of 49 "non-Anglo nominees" were recognized in the acting and reality hosting categories — the ceremony’s largest number to date, according to Deadline.

Still, the racial makeup of the shows garnering the most attention this year, including "The Crown," "Ted Lasso," "Mare of Easttown," "Hacks" and "The Queen's Gambit," were anchored by predominantly white acting ensembles.

Even Emmy host Cedric the Entertainer made a joke in passing hinting at how difficult it is for a nominee of color to win a performance award.

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“The good news is there are a lot of Black people nominated tonight,” Cedric the Entertainer said early in the evening. “Like my dawg Anthony Anderson … This is Anthony’s 11th nomination but tonight he’s up against Michael Douglas and Ted Lasso. So good luck, partner, but I gotta say, looks like it’s still hard out here for a pimp.”

While the show itself featured an array of diverse presenters, the first hour only rewarded white performers. RuPaul Charles became the first Emmy winner of color to speak on stage after winning his 11th statuette for outstanding competition program for “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — surpassing cinematographer Donald A. Morgan and making him the most decorated Black artist at the Emmys.

By contrast, at the Creative Arts Emmys last weekend, Courtney B. Vance, Dave Chappelle and Maya Rudolph all won winning guest actor awards.

On social media, many people were quick to notice the lack of representation reflected in those taking home the statuettes on Sunday.

“Black host, Black announced hell even Black music. We doing everything but win. #EmmysSoWhite,” one Twitter user wrote.

Some on social media criticized Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters for robbing the handful of actors, writers and artists of color who were nominated — given the increased scrutiny of representation in entertainment award shows in recent years.

While no person of color won an acting award on Sunday, some shows with a mostly nonwhite cast snagged a few, including Charles for “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Michaela Coel for outstanding writing in a limited series for “I May Destroy You" and “Hamilton” for outstanding variety special. Debbie Allen was also honored with the prestigious Governors Award.

Gloria Calderón Kellett, co-creator of “One Day at a Time,” urged the public to look at the racial makeup of Sunday’s winners as a reflection of its progress, or lack thereof, in Hollywood.

“To the ‘allies’ who told me that they are losing jobs to diversity & there is too much diversity in TV PLEASE look at the winners of tonights Emmy. Who got extensive budgets & campaigns? Still so much work to do for actual equality,” she tweeted.

Among the notable snubs: “Pose” star MJ Rodriguez for lead actress in a drama series, "A Black Lady Sketch Show" for best variety sketch series and “SNL” actor Bowen Yang for best supporting actor in a comedy series.

“There is more good TV than ever before, and yet this year’s Emmy’s voters apparently only watched TED LASSO, THE CROWN and MARE OF EASTTOWN,” The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg tweeted.