Supporting Actors Nominations At 2015 Emmys Are Looking Preeeetty White, But All Hope Isn't Lost Just Yet
Here we are again, awards season, at odds once more. You know what I'm talking about, but, fine, let me spell it out. On Thursday, the 2015 Emmy nominations list made its debut on the Internet, and, though the list of Supporting Actors wasn't announced during the live broadcast, it's still a very impressive sampling of television talent. However, the diversity game is weak, depending on which list you're looking at. While the Supporting Actors in a Comedy Series nominees are even keeled thanks to the likes of Keegan-Michael Key, Andre Braugher, Tituss Burgess, the Supporting Actors in a Drama Series nominees are completely dominated by Caucasian actors. And by completely dominated, I mean there's not an actor of color to be found on that list.
Key, Braugher, and Burgess are nominated alongside Adam Driver, Ty Burrell, and Tony Hale for Comedy Series, but all six actors nominated for Drama — Jonathan Banks, Ben Mendelsohn, Jim Carter, Peter Dinklage, Alan Cumming, Michael Kelly — have one thing in common: overwhelming whiteness. And that's a huge disappointment, because it's not as though there weren't a lot of actors of color to choose from when making the selections in the Drama category. Yes, I'm thinking of the entire cast of Empire right now (seriously, just decide which Lyon brother is a Supporting Actor instead of a Lead Actor, and give that one a nod, because they're all amazing). However, that wasn't the only option here.
Better Call Saul has Raymond Cruz, who has been rocking the role of the completely sociopathic Tuco Salamanca since Breaking Bad was a thing. House of Cards has Reg E. Cathey and Curtiss Cook as Freddy Hayes and Terry Womack (seriously, what does the first in-universe African-American House Majority Leader have to do to get an Emmy nod around here). Empire has, basically, any male actor you don't consider a part of the main cast. Jane the Virgin, depending on whether you're considering it as a comedy or a drama, has Justin Baldoni and Jamie Camil delivering fantastic performances as Rafael and Rogelio. I could go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that there really is no good reason for why the Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category should have been so wholly swept by Caucasian men. It almost feels like they didn't even try.
However, I'm not completely begrudging the Emmys their Supporting Actors. After all, the half-to-half ratio inherent in the Supporting Actors in a Comedy Series category does give me a lot of hope. In fact, I have no idea how they managed to narrow it down from all of the amazing comedic performances that people of color have been delivering on television this season, from, again, anyone on Jane the Virgin, to black-ish to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Sure, I wish more of my favorite shows had their actors recognized for their hilarious senses of humor and whip-smart comedic talent, but I can breathe easy knowing that the Comedy category reflects a television landscape that isn't completely dominated by Caucasian men — or, rather, reflects an award show that gives people of color an equal chance of going home with that coveted trophy.
Unfortunately, the mixed bag nature of the Supporting Actors category is the kind of emotional whiplash I shouldn't still be getting when it comes to award shows. Television might be slow toward changing to something that more accurately reflects America's cultural melting pot, but celebrating half the noms in one category being people of color while lamenting the lack of people of color getting noms in another category is exactly the kind of thing the Academy should endeavor to fix going forward. I'm not saying that there needs to be a certain number of people of color in every category in order to meet some kind of diversity quota, but, for too long, you would think from the categories at the Emmys, at the Golden Globes, at the Oscars, at any award show ever, that the only people capable of giving moving performances in any project are Caucasian. And, quite frankly, we shouldn't need the likes of Empire, Jane the Virgin, or Fresh Off The Boat to prove that's not true.
However, since we do still need those shows to prove it, it would be nice if actors of color got the recognition they deserve, whether it's as Leading Actors, Supporting Actors, or whatever. If you're as tired of hearing rally cries for more diversity as I am of writing to beg for it, then there's one easy fix for both our problems: award shows need to diversify their categories and quick. Until then, I'll just enjoy the Supporting Actors in a Comedy Series category, and take that for the small victory that it is.