2021 Emmy Winners Lack the Diversity Promised

Credit: CBS
Nominations are not enough if the voter base is not representative of the population. 

After a night where the Television Academy constantly patted themselves on the back for all the diverse shows they nominated, they watched as BIPOC missed out on major awards.

There was some inclusion in the nomination stage, with 49 BIPOC nominees recognized in the acting and reality hosting categories. That's 17% more than last year's 42.

“It’s so great to see that television and the stories we tell are finally becoming a reflection of every part of our society. Voices of Black, Latinx, Asian American, and Indigenous creators, along with the LGBTQIA+, neurodiverse, and disabled communities are being heard by larger audiences than ever before,” said Frank Scherma, the chairman of the Television Academy, during the ceremony.

But at what point does inclusion mean anything without wins?

Last year we saw major wins in acting categories, but this year the mostly white shows of Ted Lasso and The Crown swept all of those major awards. 

RuPaul made history for the most Emmys won by a person of color after RuPaul’s Drag Race won the outstanding competition series honor for the fourth consecutive year.

We also saw a fantastic speech from Michaela Coel, who was nominated for four awards, but only won for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series for HBO’s I May Destroy You. Coel became the first Black woman to ever win in the category.

Much of this has to do with the voters, who seemed to prioritize only a few shows rather than branching out to award others. While the Television Academy launched a diversity program this year, it seems like they do not have enough members to give serious contention to some of these other shows. 

I also want to examine the streamers and networks that didn't put money behind shows with diverse casts and talent. To win Emmys, you also have to market better and campaign for the shows. That means spending to make sure everyone has seen it and that they become a household name. 

Where will the Emmys go from here? We think they have to stop paying lip service and get serious about changes.      

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12 Comments

Is it conceivable that the judges voted what they thought was best regardless of race? Maybe, just maybe, the best shows won? Should we all be forced to vote based on race and the zeitgeist pressure? Articles like this are part of the problem. Unbelievable messed up times we live in now. I truly feel sorry for our kids.

September 20, 2021 at 12:18PM

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Bishop
213

Completely agree with your view. Bizarre times.

September 20, 2021 at 1:25PM

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Grant Vetters
Director
133

Bishop with an industry that has a history in discrimination it's hard to tell. No one should be forced to vote on anything, but when you don't have diversity in those voting chairs then great shows which shows the world we live in today are left out. I'm really excited for the next generation at least there will be more platforms for their stories to be told. The Emmy's can do better. Thanks for this Article!

September 20, 2021 at 1:55PM

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Toroes Thomas
Director
75

Was totally with you until you started to bemoan the world we live in and fearing for your own kids. Wow. What kind of bizarre racist snowflake are you to genuinely be upset that people want equality in nominations and accolades in the arts? Lol

September 21, 2021 at 4:11AM, Edited September 21, 4:11AM

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It is so funny to think that because people are asking for diversity on the awards it is called "messed up times", but 100 years of exclusion of black people on the awards, where almost exclusively white people used to get the prizes and nominations, were the "normal good ol' times".

September 21, 2021 at 4:31AM, Edited September 21, 4:33AM

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"Nominations are not enough if the voter base is not representative of the population. "
I completely agree, so where are the people who aren't rich? - maybe that's why no one watches. Because it says nothing to us about our lives. How can anyone talk without breaking into laughter at the idea of representation when everyone on these stages lives in an alternate reality of gated communities, wealth and fame, when there is actual typhus and 60,000 homeless people less than 5 miles from that stage. These awards shows honestly feel to me like watching the band play on the Titanic.

September 21, 2021 at 5:51AM

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james
11

Weird era. No art piece should be ever be judged by gender, sexual preferences, race, bla bla bla. I don't care who made the movie I only care if it is of high quality or not. This seems to have been forgotten.

One day our descendants will look back and realize what ridiculous times in the world of art and entertainment production we lived in.

September 21, 2021 at 12:12PM

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I know this is No Film School, but some of these comments have me feeling like it is "No School School." The problem here is not ONLY that the BIPOC community is underrepresented in positions of power (financing and green lighting projects), as well as behind the camera, but (in regards to the Emmys specifically) they are underrepresented in who gets to vote and who sits on juries. I know that we all like to think that we are objective connoisseurs of what constitutes "good art," but to think that what we like isn't influenced by our own experiences and our desire to see ourselves reflected in the media that we consume is the very kind of hubris that prevents us from examining our own prejudice and seeking out new experiences and new information. It prevents us from trying to change our own minds. There has been a lot written about this. It is up to each of us to seek out information about underrepresented and oppressed communities, because the very nature of being underrepresented and oppressed is that your story is obscured from the mainstream. It is up to each one of us to be responsible consumers of media and seek out underrepresented voices, even if it is challenging to do so.

September 21, 2021 at 1:17PM, Edited September 21, 1:17PM

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Daniel Rutledge
Senior Motion Graphics Designer
20

Just look at the comment history of the guy (BISHOP) that started this debate. No, no agenda here at all! Racism (and gaslighting to discredit advocates against racism) in our industry is a real problem...

September 21, 2021 at 1:52PM

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You are completely missing the point here (and no doubt elsewhere), the point here is that by pressuring judges or filmmakers to make decisions based on race and orientation before anything else is by definition racist. Decisions should be made on merit first and foremost. If the judges are the problem, then change them but forcing decision making to look at race / orientation before artistic merit undermines the status and importance of award ceremonies and minimizes the achievement of winning. The point is that we are heading to where awards will be political statements rather than statements of extraordinary achievement and that is wrong by any definition.

September 21, 2021 at 3:38PM

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Bishop
213

It is exactly like you didn't even read my post. It must be an incredible feeling to be so certain that you are right, that you don't even have to consider what other people say.

September 22, 2021 at 1:11PM

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Daniel Rutledge
Senior Motion Graphics Designer
20

Clearly we still have a long way to go judging from these comments here!

September 21, 2021 at 1:58PM

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