Where is Kanye West when you need him?
Scandal fans tuned into Sunday night’s 65th Primetime Emmy awards in the hopes that the show’s star, Kerry Washington, would win for outstanding actress in a drama series.
Instead, the award went to Claire Danes for her critically acclaimed role on Homeland — but with all due respect to Ms. Danes, I believe that Washington gave one of the best performances of all time.
To be clear, no award winner deserves the public humiliation Kanye’s brash statement brought. But Washington’s Emmy loss disappointed many viewers, myself included, who were rooting for the talented actress to take home the honor.
As a proud “gladiator” (a.k.a. an avid Scandal supporter) — I watched the three-hour-long award show mainly in anticipation of Washington’s acceptance speech. Even the legendary Diahann Carroll, one of Washington’s biggest inspirations, appeared alongside the Scandal star to present an award and praised her contribution to the medium.
“Tonight, she better get this award!” Carroll told the audience.
Carroll — who was the first African-American to star in her own network television series, Julia, and be nominated for an Emmy Award — delivered her speech with poise and humor.
However, the heart of her remarks reflected on the progress, or lack thereof, the awards show has made over the years in adding diversity to its list of nominees.
She pointed out that it should not have taken over four decades for another black female to star in a top-rated drama series.
Keep in mind, this is the same awards show that never honored Phylicia Rashad for her iconic role as Clair Huxtable on the hit series The Cosby Show.
“I feel we’re a little behind, we need to catch up,” Carroll told the Associated Press on the Emmy red carpet. “We’re all very grateful to the Emmys because they’ve been on our side. At the same time, we’d like it to be a little more with what’s going on in the world.”
Carroll makes a valid point. White Americans are expected to become a minority by 2042 however, that reality hasn’t been effectively portrayed on TV or wholeheartedly embraced by the Emmys.
For instance, at this year’s Emmy Awards all of the award show’s African-American nominees (granted there were only three: Washington, Don Cheadle and Alfre Woodard) went home empty handed.
Cheadle lost the award for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series to Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory. Meanwhile, Woodard lost outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or a movie to Ellen Burstyn for her role in Political Animals.
Yet, while Cheadle and Woodard’s’ losses are disheartening, it was Washington’s Emmy defeat that sent social media into a frenzy.
“Welp the Emmys just lost all their black viewers…#KerryShouldHaveWon,” one user tweeted.
This year more than ever, Washington has solidified herself as a bonafide TV star on Hollywood’s A-list.
Aside from her breakout role on Scandal, she has graced the covers of several top national magazines, been listed as People’s best-dressed woman and garnered a huge following of fans who admire her beauty and persona both on and off-screen.
But it was her performance as the quick-witted political fixer Olivia Pope that has cemented her status as a major player.
And Washington was poised to make TV history as the first black actress to win in her category had she taken home the Emmy.
While these award shows may seem pompous and superfluous, being recognized as an award winner within your respective field can be one of the most significant career achievements in the industry — and Washington was robbed of that honor.
Still, season three of producer Shonda Rhimes’ captivating creation makes its way back to TV on October 3rd and gladiators everywhere are looking forward to the return of the crime-solving drama and the clever ways Washington – or rather Pope — handles each situation with sleek composure, high poise and fashionable four-inch heels.
Through it all, Rhimes and Washington have arguably already made history. Together, and with the help of a talented crew, they have successfully delivered a show that brings more diversity to television and changes the perception of African-American women.
For now, I celebrate the fact that Washington is recognized as an Emmy-nominated actress. But with an upcoming season of Scandal approaching and a promising future expected from the newlywed, I enjoy knowing that this is only the beginning for Washington as I look forward to next year’s Emmys.
Follow Lilly Workneh on Twitter @Lilly_Works