The Emmys 2021 was a disappointing event for anyone in BIPOC communities watching.
For over three hours, we sat and watched, hoping that the people in our communities would win for the excellent work they’d done. We were cheering on MJ Rodriguez for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Pose, Rosie Perez for Supporting Actress in a Comedy for The Flight Attendant, Michael K. Williams for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Lovecraft Country, Anthony Ramos for Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Hamilton, and Bowen Yang for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Saturday Night Live.
We knew that this talent was up against heavy hitters like Ted Lasso, The Crown, and Hacks. But surely, after years and years of the Emmys being called out for historically awarding white shows with a lack of representation at the forefront, it would be different this time — right? But the more we watched, and as the night passed on, the more it became apparent that there was no real change happening at the Emmys. That’s not to say that Ted Lasso, The Crown, Hacks, and other shows that won aren’t worthy. They are and have had wonderfully talented people involved in the creation of their shows. But the disappointment felt by our communities is real.
The lack of BIPOC talent — including the Latine noms of this year — winning big at the Emmys speaks of a bigger problem in Hollywood. Nominations aren’t enough, and in many ways, it feels like those who award Emmys think it is. Yes, historic nominations like the one of MJ Rodriguez for Pose matter, especially to the LGBTQ+ community. But you know what would’ve even been better than a nomination? An actual win that cemented Rodriguez and her important work on the FX show with an Emmy. That would’ve been historic, game-changing, and the kind of representation that we so desperately needed at this awards ceremony.
And we’re not alone in this feeling.
One Twitter user said, “I get a lot of joy watching things like the Emmys and then the lack of latinx/e representation just like shoots me back to reality — our stories are out there, will increase, and are just as deserving.”
Another user pointed out that despite the Emmys’ commitment to diversity for “Black, Latinx, BIPOC, and other voices,” asking “But we are winning anything, is the question?”
It’s important to note that the talented Michaela Coel won an Emmys for her writing on I May Destroy You, RuPaul took home an Emmy for Outstanding Competition program, and Debbie Allen was recognized with the Governor’s Award. But the fact remains that no BIPOC actors won in leading nominations.
And others, like creator and writer Gloria Calderón Kellett, called for allies to take a closer look at who won the 2021 Emmys and think of the money that went into what when it came to outreach.
Wherever you stand or whatever show you thought was most deserving at the Emmys, it’s important to note that diversity isn’t something that’s going away. We hope that the conversations continue getting louder, shows fill with more members of our communities, and creators feel inspired even if the industry won’t recognize their work the way our communities do. So, here’s hoping that this moment acts as another marker that diversity is needed now more than ever. And that the next Emmys sees the change we so desperately need.