Last night, the biggest winner of the Emmys, sweeping up five awards, was The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The director, cast, and show all won Emmys, edging out the cast and creators of diverse shows like Insecure, Killing Eve, black-ish, and Atlanta. #EmmysSoWhite reappeared on social media last night, and it wasn’t just because James Corden cited it as a recycled joke. People of color were winning awards and the Emmys still made history twice, but it simply wasn’t captured on prime time.
Only three people of color were awarded Emmys last night: Regina King (Seven Seconds) for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series, Thandie Newton (Westworld) for Outstanding Supporting Actress, and Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story) for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series. (Criss is half Filipino.) Six people of color won last weekend during the Creative Arts Emmys. In other words: the Creative Arts Emmys were twice as diverse as the Primetime Emmys, which had a disappointing showing of diverse winners compared to last year.
But for the first time ever, all four winners in both Outstanding Guest Actor categories were black. Samira Wiley won Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama for her role in The Handmaid’s Tale, and Ron Cephas Jones pocketed the Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Emmy for his heartwarming role as a father and grandfather on This is Us. Wiley and her character Moira are gay, and Jones’ character William Hill is bisexual.
Completing the guest categories, Tiffany Haddish took home an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy for hosting Saturday Night Live, and Katt Williams won Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy for his part in Atlanta as Earn’s wacky uncle who owns an alligator.
The representation continued beyond that four-actor category sweep: Strong Island filmmaker Yance Ford also made history as the first openly transgender man, and trans black man at that, to win Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. Strong Island, which is currently available on Netflix, investigates the murder of Ford’s younger brother in 1992.
The Primetime Emmys and the Creative Arts Emmys have one final boost to diversity (although it’s hard to split show awards among cast and crew, so these numbers weren’t included in the individual tallies up above). RuPaul’s Drag Race took home five Emmys in total, including one for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program, while the Netflix reboot Queer Eye nabbed three Emmys, for Outstanding Casting, Outstanding Editing, and Outstanding Producing. In an interview with E! Online, the show’s Fab Five admitted that Netflix will be keeping all three Emmys since they weren’t individual wins.
Many commenters on Twitter were devastated last night when Sandra Oh lost the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama award to Claire Foy of The Crown and when Stefani Robinson didn’t take home an Emmy for writing the episode “Barbershop” on Atlanta, which sends the show’s most stoic character, Alfred, on an often futile and hilarious adventure. Still, it’s worth appreciating the diverse wins that happened offscreen, especially considering that the Creative Arts Emmys don’t get as much press as the Primetime Emmys do.