emmy awards
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Awards Season: Why Is Diversity Still An Issue?

Award season is the time of year that so many people look forward to. It’s a time of year for us to critique or marvel at the outfits, hope for our favourite media to win the prodigious awards, and to enjoy the show. However, there is one thing that is still an issue. It seems that so many different award shows still have an issue with diversity. And this has never been more clear.

Emmy’s Lack of Diversity

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The 2021 Emmy Awards last month demonstrated to many how diversity and equality is still an issue in this day and age. No actor of colour was triumphant at this year’s awards, even though there was a record nomination for people of colour. All major acting trophies went to white actors. Black female directors were also not recognised at this year’s Emmys, no Black women director received a nomination in the three genre distinctions.

This shouldn’t undercut the amazing wins from the likes of Michaela Cole, who won the writing limited category for ‘I May Destroy You’, the third time a Black creative has won and the first Black woman to win. However, this isn’t the first time people of colour have not been recognised for their momentous work. The last time a person of colour won for directing drama was in 1999, Paris Barclay. An interesting contrast to the 2020 awards, which saw four people of colour victorious. This included Zendaya, Regina King, and Uzo Abuda. However, this year there was none. This was a huge disappointment, but not at all a surprise, seemingly for anyone.  diversity

Backlash

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This issue of diversity is clear to many. The hashtag #EmmySoWhite started trending on Twitter. One reason for the backlash, which was particularly strong, was that it seemed like the Emmys was making history. People of colour made up 44% of the spots in all acting nominations for the very first time. However, this was all for nothing. As well as the hashtag trending, the Emmys were also heavily criticised for its ‘fake diversity’. This isn’t the first time and sadly, it may not be the last. The Emmys efforts to promote inclusivity seemed like an empty gesture, one that no one is going to congratulate them for. The inclusion is ‘performative’, especially as Cedric the Entertainer hosted the 2021 show.

A long-time issue

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The Emmys aren’t the only award show that hasn’t come up to the mark. In 2017, Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Film. At the time, this seemed like a turning point. It seemed as if society was moving in the right direction. Moonlight won the Oscar over the likes of La La Land and Manchester By The Sea. A film about a queer, person of colour won. And yet, fast forward to 2020, there was exactly no person of colour nominated in the Baftas acting categories. The Oscars managed only a best actress nomination for Cynthia Erivo. diversity

2021 however, was definitely more positive. Baftas 2021 was hailed as a ‘huge step forward with several incredible wins. This included Chloe Zhao being the first woman of colour to win best director. Not only were the wins positive but the nominations as well. Two-thirds of the acting nominations were for non-white performers, 16 out of 24 to be exact. 

It seems like the yo-yo effect. One year can be a real step forward in terms of diversity within the different award shows. Another seems like we are going backwards. This is a conversation that shouldn’t even be happening today, but it is. It’s important to talk about. And we must do better.

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