Minority Representation at the Emmys

Minority representation was a major theme in this years ‘2022’ Emmy awards with many actors and actresses making history in their respective categories.

“Squid Game” actor Lee Jung-Jae made history by becoming the first Asian actor to win outstanding lead actor in a drama series. “Thank you to director Hwang [Dong-hyuk] for the realistic problems we all face coming to life creatively on the screen with a great script and amazing visuals,” stated Lee while accepting his award.

Continuing their historic run, “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong Hyuk won Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. This is the first time a non-English show has won in this category. Hwang stated in his acceptance speech, “People keep telling me that I made history, but I don’t think I made history by myself because it was you who opened up the doors for ‘Squid Game,’ inviting us here tonight at the Emmys. I have to say we all made history together. I truly hope that ‘Squid Game’ won’t be the last non-English series at the Emmys.”

Zendaya became the youngest actress to win two awards in the outstanding lead actress in a Drama series for her role in “Euphoria”. She won her first-ever Emmy in 2020 at the age of 24, which made history for the youngest winner at the time. In her acceptance speech, Zendaya expressed her gratitude towards the viewers of Euphoria. “My greatest wish for ‘Euphoria’ was that it could help heal people, and I just want to say thank you to everyone who has shared their story with me.”

She continued. “I want you to know that anyone who has loved a Rue (Zendaya’s character role) or feels like they are Rue, I want you to know that I’m so grateful for your stories, and I carry them with me, and I carry them with her.”

All eyes were on veteran actress Sheryl Lee Ralph as she delivered a moving speech for her first career Emmy win for her role in “Abbott Elementary” for best-supporting actress. Sheryl Lee is the second Black woman to receive this award. She started off her speech by singing “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves. “I am an endangered species, but I sing no victim’s song. I am a woman, I am an artist and I know where my voice belongs.”

She continued, “To anyone who has ever, ever had a dream and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like. This is what striving looks like. And don’t you ever, ever give up on you.”

Lead actress and writer of “Abbott Elementary” Quinta Brunson also took home her first ever Emmy win for outstanding comedy writer, making her the second black woman to win this award. Despite this being a huge achievement for Quinta, it was clouded by controversy.

While accepting her win for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, TV show host Jimmy Kimmel laid on the floor near her, acting as if he were unconscious. He continued to lay there for the entire speech. After the show, Quinta was asked about her thoughts on Kimmel’s actions. “I don’t know, I know Jimmy Kimmel. The bit didn’t bother me. Honestly, Jimmy gave me my first big late-night spot, he was one of the first people to see Abbott Elementary. He was the first person to message me on Instagram. He was so excited it was going to be on ABC. I was happy it was Jimmy. He’s one of the comedy godfathers. Tomorrow maybe I’ll be mad at him.”

Although Quinta was not bothered by Jimmy’s actions, it wasn’t well received by many people including her co-star Sheryl Lee Ralph. “I was like, ‘I wish that man would just get up off of the ground.’ And then I realized it was Jimmy Kimmel, and I was like, ‘Ooh, the disrespect, Jimmy!’ But that’s just me.” She continued, “I told him, too! To his face! And he understood.”

Ironically, Quinta was slated to appear on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” a few days after the Emmys. During the opening monologue of the show, Quinta came out and asked Jimmy if she could finish her speech. “So you know how when you win an Emmy, you only have 45 seconds to do an acceptance speech? It’s, like, not that much time. And then you get less time because someone does a dumb comedy bit that goes on a bit too long?”

After crashing Jimmy’s opening monologue, the two sat down for an interview where they addressed the situation. “People got upset. They said I stole your moment and maybe I did. And I’m very sorry if I did that. I’m sorry I did do that, actually. And also the last thing I would ever want to do is upset you because I think so much of you and I think you know that, and I hope you know that.”

Quinata accepted Jimmy’s apology, “Well, Jimmy, let me just say thank you. It is very kind of you to say that.”

She continued, “I honestly was in such a moment of just having a good time. Like, I won my first Emmy! I was up there, you know, happy, and I was wrapped up in the moment and just having a good time… I saw you and I saw Will Arnett and my Emmy and I’m like, ‘Oh my God! I’m having so much fun!’ But thank you, that’s kind. But honestly, I had a good night. I had a great night.” The two were able to bury the hatchet and put this situation behind them.

The hit show ‘Abbott Elementary’ showcases teachers trying to navigate their work life in an underfunded school. Earlier this year during an interview with NPR, Quinta announced that the ‘Abbott Elementary’ team and ABC planned on donating a portion of their marketing money to underfunded schools and teachers. It was later announced in a tweet by actress Yvette Nicole Brown that they donated the entire Emmy promotional budget. “Learning that the @AbbottElemABC team gave their entire #Emmy’s promotion budget to schools in need should tell you all you need to know to celebrate and support @quintabrunson and the show! #love.”

Season 2 of ‘Abbott Elementary’ premiered Sept. 21 on ABC

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