When it comes to acknowledging tremendous performers of color, the Emmys typically outpace the Oscars by a significant margin. Chalk it up to the diversity of options for TV audiences, including streaming services like Netflix that feature content from and featuring people of color. We felt that way last year and echo it after seeing this year’s list of nominees, announced today (July 14).
Still, the omission of several prominent and rising stars from 2015’s group compelled us to round up 10 performers of color we think deserved nominations. This year, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) heeded at least one of our calls and gave "Mr. Robot‘s" Egyptian-American lead actor Rami Malek a worthy nomination in the "Lead Actor in a Drama Series" category.
The rest of the nominations reflect the industry’s increasing concern with diverse representation. The "Lead Actor In a Limited Series or a Movie" category is more than half Black, with nods for Idris Elba ("Luther"), Cuba Gooding Jr. and Courtney B. Vance (both for "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story"). ANd shows with writers, showrunners and creators of color like "Master of None," "Black-ish" and "Roots" all received nominations in big categories.
But the ATAS still missed too many actors and actresses whose mere presence on the small screen, let alone their stellar performances that rewrite the rules of what people of color can do in Hollywood everyday, amounts to a sea change in how the country experiences television. Here are five of our favorite snubbed performers:
Malachi Kirby, "Roots"
Now how the hell did the History Channel’s "Roots" reboot score zero acting nominations when the ATAS liked it enough to nominate it in the "Limited Series" category? Among the scores of underrated Black actors and actresses that made this "Roots" resonate with a new generation, British actor Malachi Kirby stood out with his tragic portrayal of the iconic "Kunta Kinte."
Constance Wu, "Fresh Off the Boat"
Something’s probably wrong when one the most prominent actresses fighting Asian Americans’ erasure from Hollywood doesn’t get recognition for a hilarious and nuanced performance, let alone one that speaks volumes to Asian families’ experiences in America. This would’ve been easy to fix.
Gina Rodriguez, "Jane the Virgin"
Just like last year, the Golden Globe-winning star of the CW’s raucous comedy "Jane the Virgin" deserves more than her due for her surprisingly measured (given the show’s sensational telenovela adaptations) performance as a young woman handling an accidental artificial insemination, competing attraction from two men and an international conspiracy that threatens her family. All that in one show? Yeah, you should probably start watching.
Mike Coulter, "Jessica Jones"
Coulter added much-needed emotional depth to his portrayal of Marvel superhero Luke Cage in Netflix’s "Jessica Jones." Hopefully he will get appropriate recognition when he takes that character into its own eponymous and dope-scored series this fall.
Nathalie Emmanuel, "Game of Thrones"
So you’re telling me a Black actress on one of TV’s most talked-about series, portraying an ex-slave fighting for her people’s freedom, doesn’t get the nomination while five of her White co-stars do for far-less compelling characters? FOH.
The 68th Emmy Awards ceremony airs September 18 on ABC with Jimmy Kimmel as host.
We know we didn’t include all of the deserving performers of color in this list. Who were your favorite snubbed actors and actresses? Let us know in the comments!