One Small Step for Award Shows…

By: Alyssa Lyles
October 4, 2017

The 69th annual Emmys made history this past September in regard to nominee and winner representation. Film and television award shows have notoriously disregarded people of color, the LGBTQ community, and women of all shapes and ages. An extreme case occurred during last year’s Oscars when the hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” was trending across all social media sites. This was a result of shock and outrage from the public after the Academy released the 20 white nominees that took over the only four acting categories. This list completely disregarded the actors in the two black movies that made over $100 million at the box office, Straight Outta Compton and Creed.

As a result, the viewership dropped 4% from the year prior (O’Connell). This year, the Emmys learned from the mistakes of the Academy and received tons of praise from the public because 24.6% of the acting nominees in major categories were people of color, this is up from 21.9% last year and only 9.7% in 2014 (Berg).

There were also a lot of “firsts” in regard to representation. Riz Ahmed was the first man of Asian descent to win an Emmy for best actor in a miniseries, Donald Glover was the first black man to win an Emmy for comedy direction, and Lena Waithe was the first black, gay woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing (Dockterman).

Although the inclusiveness of this year’s Emmys was refreshing and exciting for the viewers and talent that have been repeatedly discouraged by award show discrimination, it was a big turn off for others. The Donald Trump bashing and liberal commentary failed to appeal to the large demographic of America that had no problem with the way award shows have always operated. With a large audience not tuning in, the ratings only rose slightly to 11.4 million compared to last year’s 11.3 million viewers (Konstantinovsky).

We can speculate whether the Emmy results this year were due to past criticisms, changes in the media landscape or a combination of the two. However, it’s clear that this recognition of talent will have an impact beyond this awards season.

Dockterman, E. (2017, September 18). Emmys 2017: Records Mark Increasing Diversity on Television. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from

Berg, M. (2016, September 16). This Year’s Emmy Nominees Are The Most Diverse Yet, But Hold Your Applause. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from

O’Connell, M. (2017, February 27). TV Ratings: Oscars Drop to 32.9M Viewers, Telecast Takes a Bigger Hit With Younger Set. Retrieved October 04, 2017, from

Konstantinovsky, M. (2017, September 19). People Just Aren’t Watching the Emmys Anymore – but Why? Retrieved October 04, 2017, from

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