21st June 2021
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2020 Emmy Awards Historic Win for Diversity & BIPOC In Hollywood

2020 Emmy Awards Historic Win for Diversity BIPOC In Hollywood
By Michelle Sciarrotta

The 2020 Emmy Awards have proved to be a historic year for BIPOC; not only were more Black actors nominated for awards, but there was also an increase in winners across categories as well as overall diversity.

The 72nd Emmy Awards

This year saw an improvement on previous years, with half of the 18 awards being won by Black actors. The recognised actors were:

Regina King – Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie – As Angela Abar/Sister Night – Watchmen

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie – As Cal Abar/Dr Manhattan – Watchmen

Uzo Aduba – Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie – As Shirley Chisholm – Mrs. America

Zendaya – Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series – As Rue – Euphoria

Eddie Murphy – Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series – Host – Saturday Night Live

Maya Rudolph – As Senator Kamala Harris – Saturday Night Live

Ron Cephas Jones – Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series – As William Hill – This Is Us

Jasmine Cephas Jones – Outstanding Actress In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series – As Tyisha – #FreeRayShawn

Check out the full list of nominees and winners here.

Some particularly pleasing and notable history has been made this year, with father-daughter team Ron and Jasmine Ron Cephas Jones being the first parent and child to ever win awards in the same year. Zendaya is the youngest ever winner in her category at age 24, and is also only the second Black woman to ever win the award for lead actress in a drama series.

Is the film industry improving?

Last year’s awards season saw conversations of diversity become a hot topic, both on the winner’s podium and in conversations across the world. The importance of both accurately reflecting society, as well as embracing equity in the industry has been talked about for some time, however this is the first time in some considerable history that the numbers reflect some real action.

In other categories of this year’s Emmys, the writing awards saw a redistribution, with one third of awards going to Black recipients, half to BIPOC winners, and just over 16% to women.

The Oscars

The Oscars have recently announced new diversity requirements that will come into place for the best picture category in 2024 in a move that is aimed to “diversify and ensure accurate and equitable representation on screen”. Four key standards will be introduced, and nominees must satisfy at least two of these. The standards will address representation both onscreen and behind the scenes.

The categories

The categories have been split into four areas for ease that outline the following environments involved in filmmaking. They are:

  • On screen

  • Among the crew

  • At the studio

  • Opportunities for training and advancement

Within each category there is of course much more detail of how these categories will be met, and while this is a few years away from being implemented, the 2020 Emmy Awards have provided a beacon of hope that this may come sooner rather than later.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decision for the future of the Oscars can’t be covered without mentioning The Bechdel Test, and its’ criteria which has helped to pioneer the equitable and diminish the ridiculous. The Bechdel Test was created by Allison Bechdel in her comic Dykes To Watch Out For in 1985 and is often the starting point of understanding roles of substance across the Performing Arts.

“The Bechdel Test, or Bechdel-Wallace Test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. For a nice video introduction to the subject please check out The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies on feministfrequency.com“. – Bechdeltest

Perhaps as we navigate the difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is indeed hope for a future when ‘normal’ means being represented fairly, where equitable work opportunities and appreciation are available for all people.

Also by Michelle Sciarrotta:

Three Mexican Composers You Need To Know

Black Lives Matter In The UK Music Industry

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