Emmys Month: Black at the Emmys (Infographic)

I created this infographic to show some stats I’ve discovered as I researched Black actors at the Emmy awards. I focused on the acting, directing, and writing categories and found some interesting things. In addition to the facts on the graphic, below are some other facts I couldn’t fit on there.

Black at the Emmys

Black at the Emmys (Acting, Writing, Directing)

  • The category with the most wins? Best Writing in a Variety Show (8) (Though, those are split between just 3 people: Wyatt Cenac with 4 from the Daily Show and Chris Rock with 4. Wanda Sykes has two co-won with Chris.), followed by Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama (8) and Lead Actor in a Drama (5).
  • I think Chris Rock and Wanda Sykes are the only black duo to win.
  • Best Lead Actor in a Drama has 5 wins but there hasn’t been a winner since 1998 and no one has even been nominated since 2001 (Andre Braugher was the last in both wins and noms for the category).
  • There wasn’t a single nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy in the 90s. Not one. (Weren’t the 90s the heyday of black sitcoms?)
  • Phylicia Rashad is the last actress to be nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy, back in 1986. Did the Emmy voting committee really not see Tracee Ellis Ross in blackish this year? Or any of the other black actresses in the last 30 years? The last person to win in that category was Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons) back in 1981.
  • Viola Davis in 2015 became the first black woman to win Best Lead Actress in a Drama.
  • There hasn’t been a black winner of Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy since Robert Guillaume won for Soap in 1979.
  • No black male has won Best Supporting Actor in a Drama and there are no nominees this year (2015).
  • No black actress has won Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy since 1987, when Jackee Harry won for 227.
  • In acting, there are 255 nominations to date, with 41 total wins.
  • No black actress has won for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama since 1993 (Mary Alice, I’ll Fly Away).
  • I’m waiting for Chandra Wilson or Debbie’s Allen to be nominated for best director on Grey’s Anatomy. One day. So far, only three women have ever been nominated (Debbie Allen back in 1989 among them). None have won.
  • Shonda Rhimes, Dee Rees and Wanda Sykes are the only black women nominated for Best Writing in any category.
  • Larry Wilmore is the only black writer to be nominated for Best Writing in a Comedy. He won the year he was nominated in 2002 for The Bernie Mac Show.

For another great infographic of Emmys diversity wins and fails, check Lee and Low’s Diversity Gap graphic.

Any other notable Black at the Emmys facts that I’ve missed? Comment, tweet or contact me!


September is Emmys Month at ConStar Writes

It’s September! That means TV IS BACK SOON! YAY!

As I’ve blogged before, summer 2015 basically became a blog hiatus, but during that time, I tried to brainstorm ways to be a more productive blogger. In addition to TV reviews (I’ll be reviewing FOUR shows this season so far! Wish me luck!) and ConStar Clicks, I want to have more original stuff too. I was inspired by the monthly themes over on Girls in Capes, which I thought might be a great way to kickstart more writing. So each month, I will (should, because I like to push myself but also be honest with myself) have a different theme! Hopefully I can add other non-themed posts in there too, but it’s all in the effort to write/blog more.

All of this to say: September is Emmys month!

The Emmys typically look at the work of last year’s shows, actors, writers, and production teams. I want to look at the Emmys in a wider lens than just who is nommed this year and who will be snubbed. I’ll take a look at how awards are made (physically, where do they come from?), black actors and actresses who have been nominated for the Emmy award (perhaps tracking winners and losers), and I’ll revisit my post on The Emmys Need New TV Categories.

This month, also look for:

Want to contribute to Emmy month? Contact me!

ConStar Clicks

Playhouse 90 TV Anthology

As a media studies major, one of the first things I learned in my television history class was that it started out as being simply televised plays* EDIT: or televised radio shows. TV scripts are called “teleplays” for a reason. A lot of early series are presented as one-act plays for the small screen, lots of anthology shows, where each episode was a different story. Philco Television Playhouse Teleplay AnthologyThe most famous, perhaps, might be The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents, both featuring mysterious, science-fiction, and horror/thriller type stories, but others were more explicit in their titles like Playhouse 90 (90 minute teleplays) and the Philco Television Playhouse. Both media are heavily focused on dialogue and character, with plot being often secondary. This article in The Atlantic on the trend of playwrights also writing for television and vice versa doesn’t talk as much about the history of early television plays as much as I would like, but it’s interesting the way things cycle back around.

 It’s been a minor struggle all of my life that the shows that I like don’t get major award recognition. This article over at the AV Club finally talks about this struggle. I watch “mid-reputable” television. I’m usually not interested in the prestige shows. The Mad Mens or the Homelands or the Boardwalk Empires. I gave Breaking Bad a shot, but I wasn’t as into it as everyone else. Recently, The Wire had a marathon on HBO, and I just didn’t feel like starting it. But the shows listed in this article: Sleepy Hollow (once I catch up and the show redeems itself), Jane the Virgin, Arrow, The Flash, etc (all genre shows you’ll notice) are more my jam. I spent my teens loving Charmed and Angel, Chuck, Pushing Daisies, Dollhouse and I still miss 30 Rock and need to find all the waffles to cope with the last season of Parks and Recreation. None of these shows were ever ratings darlings or big award winners. What do these shows get? They’re so often sidelined, “There’s less of a sense that TV buffs have to watch these shows to stay current,” and when they are nominated, it’s rare for them to get recognized a second time (I’m looking at you, Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

“Astute TV watchers may hope that Tatiana Maslany will get nominated for her work on Orphan Black, but they also know—or should, anyway—that it’s a longshot.”

— True, but it hurts, because she’s just as good — better even — than the usual players on the prestige dramas that always get nominated!

I think this line in the article is really important, as it reminds me that while the Emmy’s may not recognize my shows for awards, that it doesn’t really matter. “And if in the end we’re all more excited about a new episode of The Flash than The Affair, maybe that says something about what’s really the best that TV has to offer.” Because while there are plenty of shows that are ratings, awards, and critical hits, I think the middle-ground shows make people happier. You look forward to them more, they often have lighter or funnier storylines.  (Isn’t it a wonder that the awards that typically don’t get nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe Awards are often winners of People’s Choice Awards?) And that feeling of joy and excitement to watch your show is more important than how many awards it gets or if the big wigs over at the New Yorker or the Times think it’s “art.”

Which shows really deserve these beauties? Just the popular kids? Maybe we need participation trophies for the middle ground shows that are working just as hard. But I guess that’s the People’s Choice Awards…

Shameless plug: Here’s an article I wrote last year about New Emmy categories we need. It basically would get recognition for a lot of midlevel TV shows out there in the Dramedy, Procedural, and Scif-fi/Fantasy genres.

♦ Want to know when your shows are returning or premiering this winter? Here’s a full list thanks to THR. Make sure to input them into your calendars so you don’t miss mid-season premieres! I definitely suggest Agent Carter, which I enjoyed much more than I’ve ever enjoyed Agents of SHIELD.

♦ Finally, as I venture into my first writing project of the year (a post coming on that soon), I probably need an app like this presented by the AV Club, that doesn’t let you use the rest of your computer until you complete the goals you set. It’s easier to get around the time limit (by not writing) than the word count limit. Though I’m sure if I write WRITING IS SO HARD over and over, I’ll hit it in no time. I won’t even copy and paste.

EDIT: Maybe I will go through some old textbooks for more blog fodder…

The Emmys Need New Categories

The Emmys were over a week ago, but as the fall season approaches, I can’t help but continue to think about the shows that weren’t and won’t ever (it seems) be nominated for the most prestigious TV award out there.

There are so many more shows on the air than when the Emmys first began. There have been new categories added in the years since, with an entire separate ceremony for the “Creative Arts” Emmy’s, but with the evolution of television has come the evolution of genres. Shows are not simply drama or comedy anymore. Single camera comedies (which moved comedies from being mutli-cam only to a two method shooting process) and programs like Orange is the New Black (which views like a drama (and is an hour long) but submitted an Emmy nom in the comedy category) show that maybe the Emmys need an update regarding genre.

I believe there are so many shows out there where the actors, writers, producers, and crew work just as hard on their show as the staff of the Breaking Bads and Modern Familys out there, but they’re not recognized because their genre is properly represented. There are three genres that I think could use an Emmy boost, if just so that the people working on them can get the recognition they deserve. Dramedy, Procedural, and Science Fiction Fantasy.


Emmys Outstanding Dramedy

Dramedies are a relatively new designation we’ve been giving comedies that have serious moments and dramas that aren’t dark and heavy. A lot of the shows airing this fall 2014 seem to fit either drama, comedy (or the other two categories I’ll talk about later), but aren’t really straight up dramedies. I think shows like Castle and Bones are both drama and comedy, but would go in my proposed Procedural category. Pushing Daisies was also a hearty mixture of both comedy and drama, but again, could also fit either Procedural or even Science Fiction. That’s the hybrid nature of these kinds of shows and I think that they should be rewarded for touching both sides of the spectrum–it’s not easy to make your audience both laugh and cry without creating jarring moments of mood whiplash.

Shows that I think would (have) benefit(ed) from a separate Dramedy category include:

  • Pushing Daisies
  • Chuck
  • Ugly Betty (an hour long drama that submitted in the Comedy category, and won at least one that I know of [Best Actress in a Comedy to America Fererra])
  • The Carrie Diaries (a Drama based on Best Comedy winner Sex and the City )
  • Psych
  • Glee – (Dare I include this) I believe they’ve submitted under Comedy before, despite tackling serious issues and being properly considered an hour long Drama.
  • Up All Night – the short-lived Christina Applegate/Will Armett show reminds me of a network comedy that probably could have done better if it had not been trying so hard to be funny. I think the show had an understated humor to it that works for dramedies more than straight up comedies and if Dramedy were an accepted genre of television, then people would have understood it more.
  • Orange is the New Black – might have won the awards it submitted for (though I do recognize Uzo Aduba for winning, though I wouldn’t call her a “guest” actress on her show).


Emmys Outstanding Procedural

There are dozens of procedurals on TV these days. From the umpteen CSIs and the prevailing Law and Orders, there’s no lack of cop/investigative shows out there. And due to the overwhelming number of shows in the Procedural genre, rarely do they get recognized for the work they do. I watch the quirky procedurals; Castle, (I’m an ex-Bones fan), Psych, could we consider Veronica Mars a procedural? Those shows often could fit under Dramedy as well, but I think a Procedural category would give shows like this more attention. These shows last long–the production staff, crew, and actors work long hours for many years trying to make fresh stories in a sea of other shows just like them. That’s not an easy feat. Several of these shows do the “ripped from the headlines” stories and some do them better than others. The guest casts can make us laugh or cry or feel fear as the murderer stalks someone down a dark alley. These shows may be “easy” or formulaic, but the shows that upend or subvert the formula should be recognized, but because there’s not that much room in the drama category, they often go unnoticed.

Shows that I think would (have) benefit(ed) from a separate Procedural category include:

  • Castle
  • Bones – not sure I’m confident it would win any, I’ve got problems with the way the writers progress then unravel character development constantly, but I think some of it’s early seasons warranted recognition for twisting procedural tropes.
  • Psych – though I think it’s stronger in the Dramedy category
  • Pushing Daisies – never forget this was a procedural. They solved crimes every episode.
  • Veronica Mars – strong, witty writing; strong female lead; great fun stories with sometimes great, sometimes faulty twists. Worthy of recognition for season 1 at the least.
  • Person of Interest – I don’t watch this show, but many people who do love it and think it’s amazing.
  • Elementary – Again, a show I don’t watch, but people who do love. It also inverts many Sherlock Holmes/Buddy cop tropes that deserves more praise, even from a non-viewer.
  • Lie to Me – I miss Lie to Me every season it’s not on the air. I think the idea was brilliant and it was a really smart show. Tim Roth’s a great actor and the characters were lovely. I would have given it all the awards.


Emmys Outstanding SFF

Lastly is the Sci-Fi Fantasy (SFF) Category that I’d fight the strongest for, not only because most of the shows I watch are in this category (and therefore never win any major Emmys), but because the extra level of suspension of disbelief that the show must give their audience–transporting them to another world or time–is extra work that a show must put in. If a show like Buffy puts in seven years of making audiences believe these fantastical things could happen and that these characters could react in the way they do–often with the actors acting against green screen or with ridiculous set decoration–then that deserves recognition. It would also help shows like Game of Thrones–which has quite a few Emmy nominations (DINKLAGE!), actually win the awards. (If there was a SFF category, Game of Thrones would be the Breaking Bad or Modern Family of it’s category; it would win every year I am sure.)

Shows I think would (have) benefit(ted) from this category:

  • Angel – mostly just because it’s my favorite show ever, but also because the writing was often very strong and engaging.
  • Game of Thrones – obviously. It’s *this* close to winning all the awards now, much less if it had a separate category.
  • Pushing Daisies
  • Smallville – I never watched the show and I’ve heard mixed things about it, but you want to tell me that it went 10 seasons and there weren’t any award worthy moments? I think if there was a category for it’s genre, it could have warranted some nominations.
  • The X-Files – Another show I’ve never seen, but it’s such a cult classic that I think it must have some award worthy episodes or acting moments in it’s episode catalogue
  • Orphan Black – This category would be the saving grace to finally get Tatiana Maslany the Emmy she so well deserves.
  • Fringe – a cult classic show I haven’t watched yet, but from the word of it’s fans, it seems like there could be some Emmy moments in writing in it’s repertoire of episodes.

There are plenty of shows in each category that I am missing (or adding simply because I like the show and maybe it doesn’t have Emmy worthy writing or performances; I admit this is possible), but that’s where you come in. If these Emmy categories existed, what shows would you submit? Any particular episodes? I know some of the shows I listed above are very adaptable to more than one category, but if OITNB can submit for Best Comedy, and Uzo Aduba can submit for Best Guest Actress (rather than supporting), then submission guidelines can be pretty subjective.

How do we get the Emmy committee to considering adding even just one new category that expands the list of shows able to be seen and nominated? With the advent of reality television, there began an entire reality genre section to the award ceremony itself (was there a year where five reality hosts “hosted” the Emmys? Am I making that up or did that nightmare of an idea actually happen?), so we know the committee is capable of adapting to the times. I most strongly desire SFF, but Dramedy is much needed category as well.

Current Emmy (and Creative Arts Emmy’s) Categories


As much as I want a Dramedy category, it’d be really hard to take anyone serious when saying the word on television. I am trying to imagine the President of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences saying the word, and it’s just fuzzy. But we’d find a way to work around it.)

Related Emmy Posts:

Is TV getting more diverse? Not by the look of this year’s Emmys via Lee and Low

Who Are the Emmy Voters?

Minority actors land the lead roles in fall’s diverse TV lineup | New York Post

Check out the Post’s article on the PoC led dramas coming this fall. And a few are led by women! Numbers are getting better, but no where near where they need to be.

The link and a couple of quotes below.

With “Scandal” commanding $200,970 per 30-second advertising spot, it’s a cash cow.“The color Hollywood loves the most is green,” says Wilmore. “Shonda Rhimes really showed that you can have a black lead in your thriller and you can have a great show. She broke down that wall, and Hollywood follows success.”

Hollywood definitely follows the money. Hopefully these new shows prove to be great television as well. The problem we’ve faced in the past has not always been a lack of content (well, yes, this is the problem, but) sometimes the content put out there isn’t good. There are a lot of times people of color will watch a show featuring someone of their background and that will boost ratings, but ratings will drop off if they don’t consider the show good. It’s not just about representation in numbers, but representation in quality and content. Don’t just give us a show with a black person and say it’s diversity, the content has to be good as well.

Rina Mimoun, executive producer of “Red Band Society,” says that, because of the Rhimes effect, “people will open up their casting. There’s no reason not to.”

More and more producers are realizing this, but things still aren’t where they need to be. The Emmy’s certainly showed that with the small amount of PoC nominees and smaller winners (most weren’t even televised). Hopefully, with this new crop of PoC led shows, next year’s Emmy’s will feature more PoC nominees and winners (now that Breaking Bad is finally out of the race; and maybe Emmy voters will finally be over Modern Family).

(In addition to these current shows, let’s not forget Sleepy Hollow, also led by a black female–I don’t think the article mentioned it.)

via Minority actors land the lead roles in fall’s diverse TV lineup | New York Post.

Who Are the Emmy Voters?

Another Tatiana Maslany Emmy Nomination Snub — Vulture

Emmy nominations came out today and they’re extremely frustrating. I’ve never claimed to watch the most popular or hit shows on television, if I do, it’s usually after they’ve ended or the hype has gone down. I watch oddball stuff, the low-rated critical darling comedies (on NBC lol) and sci-fi/fantasy/action stuff (I’m binging Arrow, and I’m really enjoying it so far!). The shows I watch are hardly ever nominated. It’s not like I’m expecting Sleepy Hollow to win all the awards, I’m not. But Emmy noms make me wonder who is voting for the shows that get picked. Is it a representative sample of television watchers? Or just a bunch of old white men (and probably some women, which is good but not great) like every other prestigious committee?

We don’t really know who they are for some obvious reasons, but are there demographics available? I am thinking women are decently represented, especially with Orange is the New Black‘s nominations, and there are plenty of action loving men if HBO’s record breaking nominations are any indication. I’ve lost count of how many Game of Thrones received–this I am pleased with–but a lot of the people I know who watch Game of Thrones, also watch Orphan Black. There is a reason Sci-fi/Fantasy are so often lumped together when people list categories–fans one of often like stuff from the other. (Obviously not always, you usually pick one over the other–I’m more Fantasy than sci-fi myself.)

So who is voting for Game of Thrones but has no interest in Orphan Black? Who is voting for fantastic women on Netflix but isn’t interested in one fantastic woman playing many fantastic women on BBC America?I get that there are many other considerations to voting, people’s personal interests and whatever the For Your Consideration choice was, but for a second year in a row, an amazing actress was overlooked. And that doesn’t count the mainstream snubs: I don’t even watch The Good Wife and I think it was snubbed for a best drama nomination.

I wish we knew more about these voters. Where are they coming from? What makes them decide the way they do? Do we need an upgrade of the entire system? Like many things, I kind of imagine they haven’t changed the way they do things, or include people, in ages. Have they widened their net of voters in this ever expanding age of television? They need more sci-fi watchers, more fantasy watchers, more young people, more people who will vote for Amy Poehler to finally win that comedy award she so achingly deserves (they’ve got this year and next to recognize. She might get another show immediately, but she deserves it for Parks so, so much). There’s more television happening than ever before and it’s not being looked at by the Emmy committee. There are more networks, more internet voices coming to play in the big leagues; have we included voters to represent those new voices that these new networks and new shows are trying to bring to the forefront? The Emmy pool just tells me that the efforts being made to bring diversity to the screen isn’t being made in the voting pool.

Maybe we need a category for science fiction, since it’s the most snubbed TV genre that I can think of. Maybe I am wrong or misinformed,  but the selections aren’t showing the true pool of talent on television and isn’t that what the Emmy’s are for*?

*The answer is probably actually all about money. So everything I said means nothing. Except, the Good Wife is a hit show on the “number one network,” you know some hefty money is involved there. Ok, I’m done rambling about Emmy snubs now.

Check out the full nomination list here: http://www.thewrap.com/emmy-awards-nominees-nominations-emmys/ 

Emmys: ‘Orange Is the New Black’s’ Uzo Aduba Makes a Plea to Voters Guest Column – The Hollywood Reporter

Emmys: ‘Orange Is the New Black’s’ Uzo Aduba Makes a Plea to Voters Guest Column – The Hollywood Reporter.

I’ve been neglecting this blog (and other writing) recently (life is getting super busy and I haven’t quite adjusted yet), but Emmy season is fast approaching and I hope to have more time to discuss shows as nominations approach in July.

So I may not be back, but I’ll hopefully post links to articles like this one. This one is especially important because it’s by a black actress making the case for diverse shows to get more Emmy recognition. Her show, Orange is the New Black, is of course an interesting contender: breaking out of the network and even premium cable mold, but it’s also female driven and has a lot of strong characters of color with increasingly important roles.

Check out the article and I’ll hopefully have more to share soon!


  • “The last series with a non-white cast to win the comedy Emmy was The Cosby Show in 1985.”
  • “The last woman of color to take the comedy actress prize was Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons) in 1981.”
  • “Today, with the groundbreaking impact of Orange Is the New Black, it’s time for Emmy to not only redefine what a winning comedy is but also what “Emmy worthy” looks like.”
  • I love that she mentions Khadijah James (Queen Latifah) from Living Single.