On Sunday night, Hollywood’s most elite celebrities walked the red carpet in their silk gowns and velvet suits for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards. Many were nominated for their television performances but I was particularly interested in the female African-American nominees. In recent years I have noticed a spike in television shows with Black leads or predominantly Black casts. These shows produced a few winners this time around.
Regina King won Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series or a Movie for her role as Aliyah Shadeed in American Crime on NBC. Uzo Aduba won Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series for her role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. Viola Davis won Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series for her role as Annalise Keating in ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder.
Viola Davis’ Emmy win put her in the history books as the first African-American woman to win best actress in a drama. This is a huge deal to me. As she pointed out in her acceptance speech, opportunities for big roles in Hollywood do not come often for women of color. Growing up I saw Black girls on primetime TV as the sassy side kick or the ratchet reality star. Today I see independent, business owning characters like Olivia Pope on Scandal and Cookie Lyon on Empire. Black women are finally being given important roles and are executing them flawlessly.
The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards made me exceptionally proud. In fact, the show empowered me. To see women of color accepting such a prestigious award for their talent and hard work gave me hope. Hope that one day African American women like myself will be recognized everywhere for their significant accomplishments. When I say significant accomplishments I mean in education, art, business and the like. What I don’t mean is accomplishments in twerking, Instagram and being a basketball wife. These are the things that African American girls are striving for when instead they should be taking notes from Viola Davis and her peers. Here is a woman who beat 5 other women, 4 of which were Caucasian, for her sheer talent and accepted the award in her natural hairdo. Barriers are being broken every day and these Emmy winners are an example of that. If more Black girls look up to women of substance, they too can be winners.