The Emmys reached an exciting (and long overdue) milestone in diversity on Saturday night as black actors took home all four guest acting trophies.
Over the past two decades, the guest categories have only seen two instances in which black actors accounted for more than one winner — and then, in both 2003 and 2014, they won two of the four trophies in the category.
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However, history was made at Saturday’s Creative Arts Emmys as Tiffany Haddish (for Saturday Night Live), Ron Cephas Jones (for This Is Us), Samira Wiley (for The Handmaid’s Tale) and Katt Williams (for Atlanta) swept the guest awards categories.
Some of the best roles on television today, right?
Adding to the impact of the evening was the fact that all four stars were first-time Emmy winners. Not to mention that Haddish’s win stemmed from another historic first — the guest-hosting gig on SNL for which she was nominated made her the first black female stand-up comic to host the show since its inception in 1975.
After his win, Cephas Jones commented on the likelihood that his beloved This Is Us character, William Hill, could have fared as well in the past. “It would have been difficult,” he said, per Deadline. “We are moving forward and moving ahead.”
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That’s the hope, at least. The fact that all four winners of guest categories at this year’s Creative Arts Emmys were people of color certainly seems to suggest that television is finally making strides in telling more diverse stories.
The roles behind these awards are all inherently complex, something that television has historically failed to represent with any real parity in comparison to binary white characters.
Television networks appear to have taken note of the public’s demands for greater inclusivity and representation and are striving to do better. CBS, for example, rolled out a new roster of shows this year in which more than half featured actors of color.
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“We said that we were going to [improve representation],” CBS entertainment president Kelly Kahl told The Hollywood Reporter. “If you look at the schedule, we did what we said we were going to do.”
And with the Primetime Emmys just around the corner on Sept. 17, TV could once again prove that progress is being made. In addition to black actors like Sterling K. Brown and Donald Glover in position to repeat lead actor wins, Killing Eve’s Sandra Oh could take home the first lead actress in a drama Emmy for an Asian woman.
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