The Television Academy recognized 34 performers of color across acting and reality hosting Primetime Emmy nomination categories, a figure that is +3 from last year’s 31, and higher than 2019 when there were only 26 non-Caucasian actors and reality hosts.
2021 continues to hold the record for diverse Emmy nominees at 49, that year propelled by nominees for Disney+’s Hamilton movie musical and HBO’s fantasy drama, Lovecraft Country.
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There were only two Emmy categories this year which were completely devoid of nominees from a diverse background: Drama Lead Actress and Comedy Lead Actor. And there were some major overlooks by TV Academy voters including Diego Luna, the star of Andor which nabbed a Best Drama Series nomination and Selena Gomez, the star of Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building which landed a comedy series nod.
But there were some great benchmarks set, read the supporting comedy actress category saw four Black women nominated, setting a record. They include Ayo Edebiri (The Bear), Jessica Williams (Shrinking), Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary). No Primetime Emmy acting category has ever counted more Black women in it.
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At 32, Dominique Fishback is the youngest Black woman to be nominated in the Lead Actress Limited or Anthology Series slot for Prime Video’s Swarm.
Ten-year old Kevionn Montreal Woodard is also the second deaf actor to be nominated after Marlee Matlin. He earned a Guest Drama Actor nom for HBO’s The Last of Us. No deaf performers have ever won Emmys.
Nicole Byer is also the most nominated Black woman in the reality host category with four hosting nom streak for Nailed It!. Overall, Byer counts seven Emmy nominations during her career, including two for producing Nailed It! and one for variety special writing on her 2022 Netflix comedy special, Nicole Byer: BBW (Big Beautiful Weirdo). Byer has yet to win at the Primetime Emmys.
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As Deadline’s Rosy Cordero pointed out, there were also historical breakthroughs for Latino thespians including Wednesday‘s Jenna Ortega (Lead Actress Comedy Series), becoming the third Latina to ever be nominated in the category after Rita Moreno in 1983 for ABC’s 9 to 5 and America Ferrera for Ugly Betty in 2007. Ortega is also the second youngest nominee in Lead Comedy Actress at 20 after Patty Duke, who was 17 in 1964 for The Patty Duke Show.
In addition, The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal is the first Latino nominated for best lead actor drama since 1999 when Jimmy Smits was nominated for ABC’s NYPD Blue. Pascal counts three noms this year overall including Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for hosting Saturday Night Live and Outstanding Narrator for CNN’s Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World.
Aubrey Plaza was also recognized with her first career Primetime Emmy nom in the category of Supporting Actress Drama for The White Lotus.
Last year’s diversity count was fueled by the Netflix thriller series Squid Game made history as the first non-English language show to score main Emmy noms (a total of 14, including Drama Series). This year, Netflix has the A24 drama series Beef which has 13 overall noms.
Among those reality hosts of color recognized in noms today were RuPaul for RuPaul’s Drag Race, Maya Rudolph, the co-host of Peacock’s Baking It, Padma Lakshmi (Top Chef), Nicole Byer (Nailed It!), and Tan France and Karamo Brown (Queer Eye).
In the acting categories those recognized included Pedro Pascal (Lead Actor Drama, The Last of Us, and Guest Comedy Actor for SNL), Quinta Brunson (Lead Comedy Actress, Abbott Elementary and Guest Comedy Actress for SNL), Jenna Ortega (Lead Comedy Actress, Wednesday), Dominique Fishback (Lead Actress Limited or Anthology Series), Ali Wong (Lead Actress Limited or Anthology Series, Beef), Kumail Nanjiani (Lead Actor Limited or Anthology Series, Welcome to Chippendales), Steven Yeun (Beef, Lead Actor Limited or Anthology Series), Will Sharpe (Supporting Actor Drama, The White Lotus), Aubrey Plaza (Supporting Actress Drama, The White Lotus), Ayo Edebiri (Supporting Actress Comedy, The Bear), Janelle James (Supporting Actress Comedy, Abbott Elementary), Sheryl Lee Ralph (Supporting Actress Comedy, Abbott Elementary), Jessica Williams (Supporting Actress Comedy, Shrinking), Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Supporting Actor Comedy, The Bear), Tyler James Williams (Supporting Actor Comedy, Abbott Elementary), Niecy Nash-Betts (Supporting Actress Limited or Anthology Series, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story), Joseph Lee (Supporting Actor Limited or Anthology Series, Beef), Young Mazino (Supporting Actor Limited or Anthology Series, Beef), Sam Richardson (Guest Comedy Actor, Ted Lasso), Lamar Johnson (Guest Drama Actor, The Last of Us), Arian Moayed (Guest Drama Actor, Succession), Keivonn Montreal Woodard (Guest Drama Actor, The Last of Us), Taraji P. Henson (Guest Comedy Actress, Abbott Elementary), Sarah Niles (Guest comedy Actress, Ted Lasso), Haim Abbass (Guest Drama Actress, Succession) and Storm Reid (Guest Drama Actress, The Last of Us).
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