Black Actors Shine at the 2020 Emmy Awards

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Photo by Glenn Francis

Euphoria actress Zendaya was the star of the night, becoming the youngest actor to win her category.

Ashton Jackson, Contributor

The 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards were groundbreaking as Black actors swept the competition.

The Emmy Awards are infamous for a lack of diversity and representation in their award winners. This year, however, nine out of 18 acting awards were given to Black actors, making this a record for the most wins by Black performers in a single night.

Euphoria actress Zendaya was the star of the night, becoming the youngest actor to win her category, best lead actress in a drama, at age 24. Euphoria is an atypical, high-school coming of age series that follows the life of  “Rue” played by Zendaya and her friends.

Zendaya used her acceptance speech to uplift young people striving to succeed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Her transition from Disney star to high profile, Emmy Award-winning actress has inspired her fans and peers in the industry to go above and beyond. 

“I just want to say like there is hope in the young people out there,” Zendaya said as she accepted her award. She also applauded her generation for taking action in the ongoing protests against police brutality. “ To all my peers out there doing the work in the streets: I see you, I admire you, I thank you.”

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Regina King also won Emmys for their roles in HBO’s hit series, Watchmen. Mateen won outstanding supporting actor while King won the outstanding lead actor award.

Watchmen stole the show, with seven nominations and three wins at this year’s Emmys. This was the first time that a comic book adaptation won a top award, according to Variety Magazine.

Uzo Aduba accepted the award for outstanding supporting actress in a limited series for her role in Mrs. America. Aduba was the only black woman nominated for this award, according to Essence Magazine.

Mrs. America follows the journey of several women as they navigate the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment. Aduba played Shirley Chisholm, the first person to run for the presidency.

Maya Rudolph won her second Emmy award for her role as Connie the Hormone Monstress in Netflix’s critically acclaimed series, Big Mouth. She was also nominated for her portrayal of Kamala Harris on Saturday Night Live.

Black excellence reigned supreme once again when the father-daughter duo, Ron Cephas Jones and Jasmine Cephas Jones, both took home awards at the 2020 Emmy Awards Show. Jasmine won the Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy and Drama Series for her role on #FreeRayshawn, while her father scored his second Creative Arts Emmy for his work on This is Us

Their collective wins made them the first-ever father and daughter to win in the same year.

Ron expressed his gratitude for his award and his joy for his daughter in the virtual press release following the awards. 

“When you do what you want to do and you’re happy and you’re healthy that’s the win in itself,” he said.

As the demand for diversity and inclusion continues to grow, the Emmys are taking strides to increase representation in major acting categories. Viewers are looking forward to increased numbers of people of color nominated for these award categories, as Middle Eastern, Latin-X, and Asian representation were slim to none.