Diversity has historically been hard to come by in Hollywood – Emmy.
The 2021 Emmy nominations, which were announced on Tuesday, were brimming with diversity in the drama, comedy, and limited series categories, indicating that Hollywood’s reckoning with inclusion is paying off.
What was the year’s biggest triumph? Mj Rodriguez, the star of “Pose,” has been nominated for the first time in a lead drama category. Her performance as Blanca on the FX series wowed critics for three seasons, making her nomination for the show’s final season all the sweeter.
“I felt represented and I felt seen,” Rodriguez told the Associated Press. “And … more accepted than I have felt in a long time. I felt like my colleagues now see me, my acting colleagues see me, and the people who are surrounded by the arts see me, and how much I want to give the world the love to my craft and my art.”
Rodriguez, 30, spoke in an interview on Zoom Tuesday from Cannes, France, where she’s attending the film festival. It had been a long night: She hadn’t been able to sleep, in anticipation. “I had a lot looming through my mind,” she said. “I was up until 8 o’clock in the morning.”
When the news was delivered, “At the dining table, my mother and godmother were seated. And when my name was called, I just screamed and broke down. And my mother snatched me up. She tossed me around like a rag doll. I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her. She swung me back and forth a little. And all I remember doing was falling into my boyfriend’s arms and crying. Tears of happiness, tears of joy.”
Rodriguez’s Emmy nomination for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.
In a statement, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, “Rodriguez’s Emmy nomination for outstanding lead actress in a drama series is a breakthrough for transgender women in Hollywood, and a long-overdue recognition for her groundbreaking performance over the past three seasons of ‘Pose.'”
Rodriguez’s nomination comes as the Television Academy loosens its gender rules on trophies. The stars up for trophies on TV’s biggest night can opt to forego “actor” and “actress” titles and request their nomination certificates and Emmy statues use the gender-neutral term “performer” instead.
Is this the beginning of the end for “best actor” and “best actress” on television? Possibly. The change comes amid calls for awards bodies to get with the times as more people come out with nonbinary gender identities.
Elsewhere in the drama actress category, Uzo Aduba (“In Treatment”) and Jurnee Smollett (“Lovecraft Country”) join Rodriguez, making half of the nominees women of color. Last year, Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”) and Zendaya (“Euphoria”) were nominated in the category, with Zendaya ultimately nabbing the title.
Four of this year’s leading actor in a drama series nominees are Black men..
And four of this year’s leading actor in a drama series nominees are Black men: Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”), Jonathan Majors, (“Lovecraft Country”), Regé-Jean Page (“Bridgerton”) and Billy Porter (“Pose”). Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.
Stay safe and informed with updates on the spread of the coronavirusDelivery: VariesYour Email
Emmy nominations overall impressed on diversity. In part, this could have to do with the many opportunities for new and up-and-coming series and stars to jostle for slots left over from series on hiatus like “Succession” and “Ozark.”
Major caveats remain for future inclusion in nominations. “Lovecraft Country” has been canceled after one season. Page will no longer appear in “Bridgerton.” As mentioned, “Pose” is now over.
In the comedy arena, “Black-ish” scored nominations for stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross as well as best comedy series, though that will end after this upcoming TV season as well.
But Rodriguez’s nomination deserves celebration – particularly at a moment as anti-transgender legislation and sentiment cascade across the country. Her legacy will linger no matter who wins and inspire a new generation of transgender talent.
“Live … work … pose!” Indeed.
Follow us on Twitter | Linkedin | Facebook | Instagram |