#EmmysSoWhite: 2021 Emmy Awards Backlash After Only White Actors Win Major Awards

Not one person of color took home an Emmy across all 12 acting categories.

The 2021 Emmys Awards are receiving criticism after no actors of color won any of the big acting awards.

Although there was a diverse group of nominees for this year’s awards show, during Sunday night’s ceremony, only white actors won awards in all of the 12 acting categories — picking up the major prizes in the comedy, drama and limited series races.

2021 Emmy Awards: The Complete Winners List

For comedy, “Hacks” actress Jean Smart and “Ted Lasso” star Jason Sudeikis won the Emmys for the leading acting categories, while “Ted Lasso’s” Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein took home the trophies for supporting. Non-white performers who were nominated, but lost, included Anthony Anderson, who was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor for “Black-ish,” and Bowen Yang, who was up in the supporting category for “Saturday Night Live.”

As for the drama categories, despite the rather diverse number of nominees, “The Crown” — and its white cast members — reigned supreme, winning all four acting races: Josh O’Connor and Olivia Colman for Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress, and Tobias Menzies and Gillian Anderson for Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress. The Netflix stars beat out several people of color, including “Bridgerton” star Regé-Jean Page, Sterling K. Brown of “This Is Us,” Jonathan Majors from “Lovecraft Country” and “Pose” stars Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez in the leading acting races. Menzies, in particular, picked up the trophy over the late (and favorited) Michael K. Williams, who was nominated for his work in “Lovecraft Country,” with his loss being one of the biggest snubs of the night.

When it came to the limited series acting races, all winners, again, were white. “Mare of Easttown” picked up three out of the four awards, with Kate Winslet winning in the lead category and Evan Peters and Julianne Nicholson in the supporting. Meanwhile, Ewan McGregor took home the award for Outstanding Lead Actor for “Halston.” Winslet and McGregor won over POC performers including “I May Destroy You’s” Michaela Coel and “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. — while, in the supporting categories, Peters and Nicholas beat out “Hamilton’s” Daveed Diggs and Renée Elise Goldsberry.

2021 Emmy Awards: The Most Viral Moments of the Night

In addition to the acting categories, people of color were shut out of the majority of the writing and directing categories as well, with shows such as “The Crown” and “Hacks” once again winning awards. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” also won for Outstanding Writing For a Variety Series.

The only non-white winner across the writing and directing categories was Michaela Coel, who won for Outstanding Writing For a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for “I May Destroy You.” Coel’s win — and moving speech — was one of the top moments of the night. Coel — who was also nominated in the acting and directing categories for the HBO drama — made history as she became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing For a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.

Also making history on Sunday night was RuPaul, who picked up the award for Outstanding Competition Program for “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which marked his 11th Emmy Award. With his win, RuPaul broke the record for the most Emmys wins by a Black performer ever, surpassing cinematographer Donald A. Morgan. However, RuPaul, like Coel, was among the small number of POC winners at the 2021 Emmys.

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With only a few wins for people of color during the ceremony — and the big categories being dominated by white winners — the awards show was subsequently hit with backlash online, with #EmmySoWhite becoming a trending hashtag.

“Every chance they had to make history in a meaningful way, they passed on it. Just said, ‘Naw, son.’ Mmkay. Got it,” wrote actress Yvette Nicole Brown.

“So we’re back to — and always will be — #EmmysSoWhite,” tweeted Preston Mitchum, the Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project.

One Twitter user pointed out how the ceremony featured “All Black everything but winners,” noting that there was a Black host (Cedric the Entertainer) and Black announcer (MC Lyte), in addition to “Black entertainment skits,” “Black commercials” and “Black musical breaks” and “speeches about inclusion.”

Another critic called the Emmys an “embarrassment,” writing, “I’ve never been this annoyed after an awards show. POC as decorative accessories, white people as winners. So much creativity this year looking forward, awards looking backward. What an embarrassment you are #Emmys. #EmmySoWhite.”

See more of the backlash in the tweets, below.


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