Emmy nominees 2016: This year it’s #EmmysSoDiverse

The takeaway for the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards could very well be #EmmysSoDiverse.

Nominations for the awards, announced Thursday, went to racially charged dramas such as “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” “Roots,” “American Crime” and the movies “Confirmation” and “All The Way.”“

Comedies with sharp-edged observations about race such as ABC’s ‘black-ish,” and Netflix’s “Master of None” also received several key nominations, including best comedy, where they will compete against more mainstream favorites such as “Modern Family” and “Veep.”


In contrast with this year’s Oscars, which became embroiled in controversy over the lack of nominations for people of color, Emmy nominations provided a wealth of recognition for minorities, particularly African Americans.

Thursday’s nominations arrived on the heels of a deluge of protests and raw emotional outpourings regarding the killing of several black men at the hands of law enforcement, and the slaying of five Dallas police officers by a black sniper. Race has taken center stage in the national dialogue, spurring debates surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and the campaign of presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whom many see as polarizing.

More than a dozen performers of color landed in the Emmys’ marquee acting categories. Half of the nominees for lead actor in a limited series are black.

The ceremony will also feature a repeat showdown of last year’s contest in the lead actress in a drama category between Viola Davis (ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder”), who won, and Tariji P. Henson (Fox’s “Empire”). It made history as the first time two African American actresses had been nominated in that category.

Prominent on the Emmy diversity front is the FX miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” a critically acclaimed docudrama recreating the murder trial of former football legend O.J. Simpson.

The project scored a total of 22 nominations, including limited series, as well as lead actor honors for Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson and Courtney B. Vance as defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. Sterling K. Brown, who played prosecutor Christopher Darden, was nominated for supporting actor.

The series will face off against ABC’s “American Crime,” which explored the racial and class tensions around the rape of a male student at an elite high school, and the History channel’s “Roots,” the reboot of the landmark ABC miniseries tracing the ancestry of an African warrior who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Joining Gooding and Vance in the lead actor in a limited series category, is Idris Elba (“Luther”).

The other major breakthrough was ABC’s “black-ish,” a series about a multi-generational African American family grappling with life in an upper-class, predominantly white neighborhood.

The show, which received only one major nomination last year in its freshman season, landed in the best comedy category. Anderson scored his second nod for lead actor, while Tracee Ellis Ross was nominated for lead actress.

The strong showing of “black-ish” is particularly noteworthy as the series tackled provocative subjects, including police brutality and the use of the N-word by both whites and blacks.

FULL COVERAGE: Emmy nominees »

Also in the best comedy category is “Master of None,” starring Aziz Ansari as a struggling New York actor coping with personal and professional woes. Ansari, who also landed a lead actor and a directing nomination, has been outspoken this year, lobbing criticisms at CBS for the network’s lack of diversity and at Trump for his negative comments about Mexicans and Muslims.

Historic studies of race-related events were also singled out. HBO’s “Confirmation,” about the battle between Anita Hill and her former employer Clarence Thomas, and “All The Way,” about the uneasy alliance between President Lyndon B. Johnson and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., were both nominated for television movie, along with the mystery movie “Luther.”

Kerry Washington, who portrayed Hill in “Confirmation,” and Audra McDonald, who played Billie Holiday in HBO’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” were nominated for lead actress in a limited series or movie.

The supporting actor in a comedy series category included Andre Braugher (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and Keegan-Michael Key (“Key & Peele”).

Regina King, who won last year for supporting actress in a limited series for “American Crime,” was nominated again in the same category for playing a different character in this year’s installment. Bokeem Woodbine was nominated for his portrayal of a smooth-talking criminal in “Fargo.”

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List of 2016 Emmy nominees

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