Thursday, January 27, 2022

‘I Knew There’d Be a Mixed Reaction’: Emmy Announcer Jermaine Fowler on the Backlash

Actor Jermaine Fowler walks the red carpet during the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Actor Jermaine Fowler walks the red carpet during the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

*It was a no-brainer for CBS to tap Jermaine Fowler as the announcer of the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, considering he stars in a sitcom for the network.

But the “Superior Donuts” actor drew mixed reviews for his performance, with some finding his enthusiasm refreshing for an awards show, while others thought he was way over-the-top.

Fowler spoke with Variety about the haters.

This is the first time the audience has really paid so much attention to the announcer. How much have you been following the reaction online?

I was allowed to have my cell phone during the whole event, so I was watching it unfold, and I saw everything. It was pretty beautiful. I saw the love, I saw the hate, and first of all, I’m a comedian, so I knew that there’d be a mixed reaction to my role. That’s just the nature of my job. Comedians play off of that social commentary, and there are many people that aren’t fans of that. This is a new format. CBS took a risk, and they changed the voice of the Emmys. It’s never been done before, but I just wanted people to be excited about what they were watching. I have a lot of energy. If you know me, you will know that quickly! I channel it into my acting, my writing, everything. I love making people laugh, and I felt so blessed to be on that stage and watch all of those people make history.

You mention seeing negative comments, but as a comedian you have to be used to polarizing an audience at times.

I’m a comic, we get hecklers every night! It’s really just part of the job. Award shows have always had traditionally white voices as the announcer and someone you don’t see. This is the first time you saw one on the Emmys, and it was different for people – it was different for me! Usually the voice is calm, poised, and people get used to that voice playing in their living rooms. When you change it up into an African American comedian’s voice, people might be taken aback. And I think some were. But the Emmys made history this year in a lot of ways – with the first black announcer, and the black man to win for directing a comedy series and the first black woman to win for comedy writing – and some people are going to resist that change, but we have to keep pushing forward because we all benefit when we embrace the voices of the diverse and inclusive artistic communities.

View Variety’s entire Q&A with Fowler here.

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