The 2021 Emmys has been widely condemned for its lack of diversity after presenting all major acting awards to white actors.
Despite boasting one of the most diverse set of nominations in history with 38 people of colour recognised in the acting competition categories, not a single one of them were presented with an award.
TV pundits had already foreseen problems as shows like Ted Lasso, The Crown and The Handmaid’s Tale dominated the nomination list with predominantly all-white casts and creative teams, but it was hoped a few actors of colour would break through.
However, as the first 15 winners of the night rolled in – all white – the hashtag #EmmysSoWhite began trending online.
It didn’t go unnoticed that Black artists made up a significant number of hosts and musical performers yet few of the winners, prompting accusations of “performative” representation.
“The fact that the #Emmys2021 has so many Black and brown people hosting, and so few winning, is another example of performative ‘commitments’ to representation,” said Rashad Robinson, president of the Color of Change campaign movement.
“It’s not just about who gets a trophy – awards like the Emmys determine who gets their projects funded and more.
“This is about celebrating diverse stories in Hollywood,” he continued, “but more than that, it’s also about creating pathways for creatives from marginalised communities – Black, brown, indigenous, LGBTQ+, women and more – to have a seat at the table.”
This is about celebrating diverse stories in Hollywood, but more than that, it’s also about creating pathways for creatives from marginalized communities—Black, brown, indigenous, LGBTQ+, women & more—to have a seat at the table. #Emmys #Emmys2021
— Rashad Robinson (@rashadrobinson) September 20, 2021
White people winning the majority of awards for writing stories about white people that have already been told, generation after generation…..while original stories of POCs are overlooked….is the most #EmmysSoWhite thing ever
— The Black Victim (@fondzilla) September 20, 2021
Every chance they had to make history in a meaningful way, they passed on it. Just said, “Naw, son.”
Mmkay. Got it.
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) September 20, 2021
#EmmysSoWhite How are you gonna have a category dominated by impressive Black actors and then give it to a white man who once again didn’t even take the time to acknowledge his fellow nominees. Yep, you guessed it. White privilege and systems not changing.
— Brandon Mack (@TheBrandonMack) September 20, 2021
Black host, Black entertainment skits, Black announcer, Black commercials, Black musical breaks, speeches about inclusion.
— Dana (Store Name) #AmplyBlackVoices (@sagesurge) September 20, 2021
the Emmys is like that tv show you’re still watching *just in case* it finally does something different
but every year it proves you wrong and does its same old thing again. and again. and again. #EmmysSoWhite
— Ashley Lee (@cashleelee) September 20, 2021
The only exceptions came when RuPaul’s Drag Race took Best Competition Series and Hamilton took home the award for Outstanding Variety Special.
I May Destroy You writer Michaela Coel was recognised for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series, the third time a Black creative has won the category and first for a Black woman.
The awards for Guest Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series were won by Dave Chapelle and Maya Rudolph respectively, and Guest Actor in a Drama by Courtney B Vance.
But besides this the diversity was few and far between, and none in the major acting categories.
It was also a big loss for LGBT+ actors: alongside the Pose stars, Emma Corrin also lost out on an award for her performance in The Crown.