Emmy Diversity: Nonwhite Performers Score a Record 41% of Acting Nominations This Year

49 of the 118 acting nominations went to performers of color

The Television Academy set new records on Tuesday by recognizing nonwhite performers in greater numbers than it has in the past. Among all acting categories, including voice-over and short form series, the 2020 tally stands at 49 nominations for nonwhite performers out of 118 in total, or 41.5%.

In the major acting categories comedy, drama and limited series, 39 of the 102 nominations — or 38.2% — went to nonwhite performers. That’s an improvement from last year, when 24% of nominations in the top categories went to performers of color.

In terms of racial diversity, the comedy categories (42.5% nonwhite) fared slightly better than the drama categories (32.5% nonwhite), buoyed by a supporting actor category made up primarily of Black actors including Andre Braugher of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” William Jackson Harper of “The Good Place” and Mahershala Ali of “Ramy.” HBO’s “Insecure” also received several acting nods this year, including for supporting actress Yvonne Orji, the only nonwhite actress among eight nominees.

The diverse list of comedy nominees marks a significant year-over-year shift after 2019’s all-white lead actress, supporting actress and guest actor categories.

In drama, multiple nominations for “The Crown,” “Succession” and Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” were offset by returning nominees like Sterling K. Brown of “This Is Us,” Billy Porter of “Pose” and Sandra Oh of “Killing Eve,” though the 12 nonwhite drama nominees (32.5%) are on par with last year’s total of 11 (28.9%).

Limited series got the biggest boost thanks to a strong showing by HBO’s “Watchmen,” which put up six acting nominations, including four for Black actors. Other nominees of color included Tituss Burgess for the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” interactive movie, Octavia Spencer for “Self Made” and “Little Fires Everywhere” star Kerry Washington.

Several performers from underrepresented groups were nominated across multiple categories, including Sterling K. Brown, who was recognized for his work on both “This Is Us” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”; Wanda Sykes, also of “Maisel” and the animated “Crank Yankers”; and Maya Rudolph, who will not only compete against herself in the guest actress in a comedy category but also landed a third nomination for “Big Mouth.”

However, not all groups shared in the greater representation of this year’s pack of nominees. Only one person who identifies as Latino — actress Alexis Bledel — was nominated for a single award, drawing strong criticism from the congressional Hispanic Caucus Tuesday afternoon.

The TV Academy made it clear that representation and diversity was a priority this year in a statement from chairman and CEO Frank Scherma at the top of the nominations announcement. “This year we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history,” Scherma said. “And it is our duty to use this medium for change … [by] amplifying the voices that must be heard and telling the stories that must be told. Because television, by its very nature, connects us all.”

Reid Nakamura

Reid Nakamura

TV reporter • reid.nakamura@thewrap.com • @reidnakamura



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