“The fact that the #Emmys2021 has so many Black and brown people hosting, and so few winning, is another example of performative ‘commitments’ to representation.”
While RuPaul made herstory at the 2021 Emmys for the most ever wins by a person of colour, the night wasn’t so sweet for his fellow LGBTQ+ nominees or other artists of colour.
The 73rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards have been accused of “performative representation”, by showcasing a significant number of Black artists in the lineup of performers, while overlooking people of colour in almost every award category.
This comes as a slap in the face to minorities, as this year saw an all-time high of 49 people of colour nominated in acting and reality competition categories. Even so, all major acting awards were bestowed upon white talent.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to many TV buffs, who had predicted a lack of diversity among winners by the fact that so many of the shows nominated were made up of predominantly white casts and crews.
By the fifteenth consecutive category to be awarded to a white winner, #EmmysSoWhite was trending on social media.
The fact that the #Emmys2021 has so many Black and brown people hosting, and so few winning, is another example of performative "commitments" to representation. It's not just about who gets a trophy—awards like the #Emmys determine who gets their projects funded and more.
— Rashad Robinson (@rashadrobinson) September 20, 2021
“The fact that the #Emmys2021 has so many Black and brown people hosting, and so few winning, is another example of performative ‘commitments’ to representation,” Rashad Robinson, president of the Color of Change campaign movement, said on Twitter.
“It’s not just about who gets a trophy – awards like the Emmys determine who gets their projects funded and more. This is about celebrating diverse stories in Hollywood but more than that, it’s also about creating pathways for creatives from marginalised communities – Black, brown, indigenous, LGBTQ+, women and more – to have a seat at the table.”
Billy Porter and MJ Rodriguez (Pose), Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang (Saturday Night Live) and the late Michael K Williams (Lovecraft Country) were among those who lost out to their white colleagues on the night.
LGBTQ+ award-winners were also scarce at the 2021 Emmys, with Emma Corin losing out for her performance in The Crown.
RuPaul is the major exception to the #EmmysSoWhite controversy. He won his eleventh Emmy, alongside his legendary Drag Race production team, for Best Competition Series.
Herstory in the making ? @TelevisionAcad
— World of Wonder (@WorldOfWonder) September 12, 2021
This makes RuPaul the most awarded person of colour in Emmy history, narrowly beating out cinematographer Donald A. Morgan, who he tied with just recently at the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony.
Joining RuPaul onstage to accept the award were co-host and bestie Michelle Visage and former Drag Race contestants, Gottmik and season 13 winner Symone.
“Really, thanks to all of our lovely children on our show from around the world,” RuPaul said in his acceptance speech. “They are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life, even more difficult today. This is for you.”
He added, “And for you kids out there watching, you have a tribe that is waiting for you. We are waiting for you, baby! Come on to Mama Ru!”
As well as RuPaul’s victory, Hamilton was awarded Outstanding Variety Special, and writer Michaela Coel was recognised for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series, making her the first Black woman to win this title.
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