2021 Emmy Nominations Break Records in Diversity

Los Angeles- OCT 21: MJ Rodriguez arrives for 5th Annual InStyle Awards on October 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA
Quinn Jeffrey

Hey Hollywooders! We’re here to catch you up on all things Good in the ‘Wood. The 2021 Emmy nominations were recently announced and today we’re looking at the record number of nominations for performers of color this year!

The HBO drama series Lovecraft Country is at the forefront of this year’s increased diversity with 18 nominations, according to Deadline. The POC-led musical Hamilton followed closely behind with 12 nominations in Limited Series or Movie categories.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, this year’s Emmy nominees were about 44% actors of color. This breaks the 2020 record of 34% of nominees being non-white. This year also saw an increase in the number of Latinx and Asian nominees.

In total, there are 49 nominees of color this year compared to last year’s 42. Let’s take a look at some of the amazing performers and shows that were nominated!

Emmy nominations: A celebration of POC-led TV programs

HBO’s Lovecraft Country is nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Cast members Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett made history as the first two Black leads nominated for the same drama series, as reported by Variety. The same goes for the series Pose, with actors Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez nominated for Lead Actor and Actress in a Drama Series. Pose also makes history for being the first series to have a Black actor nominated in every eligible category.

ABC sitcom Black-ish is nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross are nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series for their work in the show.

HBO’s I May Destroy You and Amazon Prime Video’s The Underground Railroad were both nominated for Outstanding Limited Series. Sylvie’s Love and Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia received a nomination for Outstanding Television Movie.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton on Disney+ is nominated for a number of Limited Series or Movie categories including Outstanding Actor (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr.), Outstanding Supporting Actress (Philippa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry), and Outstanding Supporting Actor (Daveed Diggs, Anthony Ramos).

According to Variety, Hamilton now holds the record for second-most nominations in the Limited Series or Movie acting categories with seven, just behind When They See Us’ eight. Philippa Soo made history as the first actress of Asian descent to be nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.

A Black Lady Sketch Show is nominated for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, with Issa Rae and Yvette Nicole Brown nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for their work on the show. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah received a nomination for Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Rupaul’s Drag Race was nominated for Outstanding Competition Program.

Emmy nominations: Actors of color dominate in multiple categories 

Performers of color earned at least half the spots in lead drama actor and actress categories for the first time in history, according to The Hollywood Reporter. These categories include Outstanding Lead Actor (Regé-Jean Page, Sterling K. Brown, Billy Porter, Jonathan Majors), Outstanding Lead Actress (Uzo Aduba, Jurnee Smollett, Mj Rodriguez), Outstanding Supporting Actor (Michael K. Williams, O-T Fagbenle, Max Minghella, Giancarlo Esposito) and Outstanding Guest Actor (Courtney B. Vance, Don Cheadle, and Carl Weathers).

Actors of color comprise half the nominations in a number of other categories as well. Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series nominees include Bowen Yang, Kenan Thompson, Nick Mohammed, and Carl Clemons-Hopkins. Nominees for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series include Maya Rudolph, Issa Rae, and Yvette Nicole Brown.

Daveed Diggs, Anthony Ramos, and Paapa Essiedu are nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, while Philippa Soo, Moses Ingram, and Renee Elise Goldsberry are nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.

All five nominees for best include a person of color: RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Nicole Byer (Nailed It!), Karamo Brown and Tan France (Queer Eye), Padma Lakshmi (Top Chef) and Daymond John (Shark Tank).

Emmy nominations: Bowen Yang and Mj Rodriguez make history

Both Bowen Yang and Mj Rodriguez made history this year in their respective categories, according to Variety. Mj Rodriguez has become the first transgender actress to be nominated in a major Emmy category. The only other transgender actresses to ever be nominated for an Emmy are Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) and Rain Valdez (Razor Tongue).

Mj Rodriguez is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her work in Pose. After learning of her nomination, Mj Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s a big step — a huge step forward for us — and I’m very, very thankful…”

GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said that Mj Rodriguez’s nomination “is a breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of POSE.

SNL’s Bowen Yang also made history as the first actor of Asian descent to be nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Bowen Yang began writing for SNL in 2018 and became a featured cast member in 2019. He is the show’s first Chinese-American cast member.

Emmy nominations: Stacey Abrams earns a nod

American politician and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Character Voiceover Performance in Black-ish. Stacey Abrams starred in the sitcom’s election special in October 2020.

According to Variety, Stacey Abrams plays herself in the animated special and helps lead character Dre (Anthony Anderson) learn more about politics and the voting system. Stacey Abrams is known for her work in fighting voter suppression and ensuring that people’s voices are heard through their right to vote.

Stacey Abrams is also a New York Times bestselling author and has produced the documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy, which received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program.

We’re so happy to see this increase in representation in the 2021 Emmy nominations! The awards show will take place on Sunday, September 19 and will be hosted by actor and comedian Cedric the Entertainer. Check out a list of the nominees here!

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