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Diversity at the Emmys

    The Emmy awards are considered to be the highest award given in televison. Winning the award means to be recognized as the highest quality of your profession. The 2023 Emmy Awards on January 16th was nothing short of historic for the award show. This years awards saw the most non-white performers awarded in its history. From actors to writers and showrunners non-white creatives were more celebrated than ever. Critics marked this year as a high point for diverse recognition by the Emmys. It marks an award show roster unlike the years before. Let's take a look into why the diverse representation matters so much for the Emmys. What we might see is recognition that everyone's story is worthy of being recognized for their brilliance. 

     As a positive turn , the 2023 Emmys saw 5 of the 12 acting awards going to people of color. The list of winners includes Ayo Edibiri for The Bear, Steven Yeun for Beef, and Qunita Brunson for Abbott Elementary. For some perspective, Katie Kindelan for ABC News reports that, " Qunita Brunson is the first Black woman to have won the lead actress Emmy in 40 years" (Kindelan). That's just a start to show how long the Emmys ave gone without recognition of diversity. This year's Emmy's also saw an Emmy for Rupaul for Rupaul's Drag Race and an honorary award given to the GLAAD association. GLAAD is an organization that is dedicated to the inclusion and representation of LGBTQ+ charcters in media. These facts alone should show a positive turns towards a future with more diversity in award recognition. This year was even a considered improvment over the 2022 Emmy award winners. Sadly, not everyone believes in such a dramatic turn. Sometimes, diverse award recognition can just feel like saving face so the awards don't feel so exclusionary. 

     Statistics website Statista shows that the top four most awarded actors and actresses for Emmys are White people. The top women are Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Cloris Leachman, Mary Tyler Moore, and Allison Janney. The top three awarded men include Ed Asner, Art Carney. While no one is arguing that these performers don't deserve recognition from the Emmys, it does seem strange that each of the most winning actors and actresses by the Emmys are White people. While it doesn't say much in the moment, it matters to the overall problem. The problem of diversity in the Emmys is so long-lasting that not a single person of color can claim to be awarded the most. It would certainly cause performers of color to believe that their work is somehow lesser than their white contemporary. 

    The exclusion of people of color in acting cateogories has a far reach effect. Nahya Bullock for Drexel University says, "This goes back to the importance of these accolades and credibility because it gives notice to the industry that these actors are worth it and that they are capable. The ability to act as if Black actors are unworthy simply because they have not won awards is twisted in the sense that it’s difficult for them to be recognized already and therefore it is difficult for them to be nominated which is then difficult for them to win" (Bullock). Bullock highlights the essential problem in exclusion at the Emmy awards. When actors and actresses of color are not recgonized, it sets a precedent for the industry that will exclude their stories and be considered of a lesser quality. This leads to an unfair advantage over what is considered high quality television and thus an award show that fails to award creators and actors that deserve the recogntion that is equal to their contemporaries. 





Works Cited

Bullock, N. (2022). Diversity and Inclusion in Television the Effect on the Television Industry and Media Content (Order No. 29998491). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2744940165).


Kindelan, K. (2024, January 16). “Abbott Elementary” star Quinta Brunson is 1st Black woman to win best comedic actress Emmy in over 40 years. ABC News.



Pictures, I. (2009). Emmy Award. flickr. ITU Pictures. Retrieved 2024, from



Stoll, J. (2024a, January 17). Emmy Awards: Actors with the most wins 2023. Statista.





Stoll, J. (2024b, January 17). Emmy Awards: Actresses with the most wins 2023. Statista.






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