Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Lena Waithe Calls Out Emmy Problem with Black TV

*Lena Waite is calling on Emmy voters to show more love to Black shows and content creators of color. 

After reading Hollywood Reporter’s 2020 Emmy forecast that highlighted predominantly white TV shows, Waite noted her objection and penned a response for the publication

Waite, who won an Emmy in 2017 for her work on Master of None,” wrote, in part:

A few weeks ago, I found myself reading the Emmy forecast in The Hollywood Reporter — as I always do. Then I found myself being a little bewildered, but not surprised by the usual “frontrunners”: Succession, Ozark, The Crown, Better Call Saul, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Morning Show. All fantastic shows. All white as fuck. (Yes — This Is Us and Westworld are on the list, and I dig those shows, but right now I’m talking about shows with Black creators.) When it comes to comedies, except for Insecure, the list is even whiter. These lists aren’t just a fun guessing game. These lists tell the TV Academy who to vote for.

Awards campaigns aren’t that different from political campaigns. The more visible you are, the more likely it’ll be that Academy voters will think of you when it comes time to vote. But visibility costs money. And often shows with predominantly Black casts don’t have big budgets for robust campaigns. That, coupled with being absent from these lists, means that a lot of shows with majority Black talent continue to be absent at the Emmys. Awards can seem superficial, but the truth is that awards mean power. My Emmy made it possible for me to regain control of my own show. I was able to create job opportunities for people who look like me.

As white people continue to accumulate trophies and dominate the awards conversations, it makes it difficult for Black and brown people in Hollywood to gain wealth and power. The vicious cycle continues. Now don’t get me wrong. We don’t want pity nominations. All we want is to at least be a part of the conversation when Emmy season rolls around. We’re worthy of it.

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She went on to say:

If I made a list of Emmy hopefuls, it would probably include shows about Black and brown people, shows about the LGBTQIA+ community and people living with disabilities — such as Insecure, Dear White People, Pose, #BlackAF, Queen Sugar, Work in Progress, All American, Bigger, First Wives Club, Ramy, Betty, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Power, Snowfall, Black Monday, Wu Tang, Desus & Mero, Greenleaf, Never Have I Ever, High Fidelity, Gentefied, Cherish the Day, Vida, One Day at a Time, Los Espookys, Feel Good … the list goes on. Now, some of these shows have made appearances on the coveted lists, but they rarely fall into the “frontrunner” groups. I also find it ironic that the same trades generating these white-ass lists then turn around and do cover stories asking why awards shows are so white.

During a recent appearance on “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” Waithe called out media companies for ignoring Black TV shows during award season 

“Look, I just read The Hollywood Reporter, and The Hollywood Reporter has some explaining to do, because their list of TV/Emmy nominees, like, people that are hopefuls, all the Black shows are, like, on the long shot list or a major threat,” said Waithe. “It’s, like, don’t act like Black television is invisible,” continued Waithe. “And that’s up to places like The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety, and all these trades, to not ignore the ‘Insecures,’ the ‘BlackAFs’ the ‘Dear White Peoples.’ They have ignored our shows for so long, and they act like we don’t even belong in the conversation. And I think it’s unfair. I think it’s not cool, and I don’t have any qualms about calling them out on that.”

Read Lena’s full response to THR and Emmy voters HERE

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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