Even as race continues to be one of the most divisive issues in the country, the celebration of cultural diversity is a dominant theme across the 70th Emmy Award nominations. Performers of color and series produced and written by minorities scored numerous nominations Thursday.
“Atlanta,” “black-ish,” “This Is Us” and “Westworld” are among the series receiving big nods that spotlight minorities in major creative and acting roles.
Hollywood has been rocked in recent years by controversies over the lack of awards recognition for people of color. But the stream of performers, producers and writers of color receiving Emmy nominations indicate that the Television Academy at least is placing a greater premium on honoring projects with diverse cultural perspectives.
One of the series leading the way is “Atlanta,” from Donald Glover. Season 2 of the quirky, groundbreaking show was nominated for comedy series, while Glover received nods for lead actor, directing and writing. (He also received a nomination for guest-hosting “Saturday Night Live”).
The FX series also scored nominations for supporting actor Brian Tyree Henry and supporting actress Zazie Beetz.
Glover made history last year when he became the first African American to win an Emmy for comedy direction.
“Atlanta” will face off in the comedy category against ABC’s “black-ish,” which appears to have replaced ABC’S “Modern Family” as a network Emmy favorite. African American stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross were recognized in the lead actor and actress category, respectively.
While Anderson and Glover will face off for the second time in in two years in the category, one of Ross’ rivals will be black actress and comic Issa Rae, a first-time nominee for her HBO show, “Insecure.”
NBC’s “This Is Us,” the show about a multicultural family that premiered to huge critical acclaim last year, received its second nomination for drama series. Sterling K. Brown, who won lead actor in a drama series last year for the show, is nominated again; he’ll compete against Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”). Other nominees in the category include Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Ed Harris (“Westworld”) and Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”).
Another high profile nominee is Sandra Oh of “Killing Eve,” who is the first Asian actress to be nominated in the lead actress in a drama category.
Antonio Banderas received a nomination for lead actor in a limited series or movie for his portrayal of the iconic artist Pablo Picasso in NatGeo’s “Genius: Picasso.” Regina King, who won two consecutive Emmys for supporting actress in a limited series or movie for ABC’s anthology “American Crime,” has landed again in the category with Netflix’s “Seven Seconds,” in which she plays the anguished mother of a young boy who is killed in a mysterious auto accident.
In the supporting actor in a comedy category, Henry of “Atlanta” will compete against Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”) and Tony Shalhoub of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Other prominent nominees of color include John Legend (lead actor in a limited series or movie for “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert”), Thandie Newton (supporting actress in a drama for “Westworld”) and Leslie Jones (supporting actress in a comedy for “Saturday Night Live”). Legend’s nomination puts him in the running for the coveted EGOT — he’s already won multiple Grammys, an Oscar (for “Selma”) and a Tony (for “Jitney”).