When the Primetime Emmy Awards nominations are announced next month, Regina King hopes to see a more “colorful” group of nominees.
King, who played a devout Muslim woman on ABC’s new anthology drama series American Crime, recently told TheGrio.com “it would be great to be nominated” for her role as Aliyah Shaheed.
But the veteran actress, who dons a hijab in the racially driven crime series, is more concerned with seeing often overlooked actors of color recognized for their outstanding performances.
“I would like for it to be a lot more colorful,” King said of the nominations.
And she made it clear she’s not just talking about black actors.
“There are a lot of actors and actresses out there that I think should be recognized, that aren’t just black,” said King, mentioning Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat).
She also praised Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) and Kerry Washington (Scandal).
“They’ve given powerhouse performances this season,” said the 44-year-old actress, who made her TV debut 30 years ago on 227 as Brenda Jenkins. “There was a lot of good work this season and it should be recognized.”
It’s not the first time King has spoken out about the lack of diversity among the Emmy Awards nominees. In 2010, she penned an open letter for the Huffington Post titled, “The Emmys: As White As Ever.”
“It is impossible for me to ignore the published statistics regarding the number of people of color mentioned, celebrated or honored in the history of the televised Emmys,” King wrote. “Up to and including this year, there have been only 53 non-white actors nominated for Emmys out of nearly 1,000 possible nominations in the top four acting categories for drama and comedy.”
Last year, 11 black actors and actresses picked up Emmy nominations across all categories, which was the most in the history of the 66 year history of the awards, Deadline.com reported.
“It would be great to win an Emmy, but the most important thing is to be able to continue to work,” King told TheGrio.com. “Sure, I want to have that experience as well, but I will be okay either way.”
King, known for her roles in movies like Poetic Justice, Boyz n the Hood and Jerry Maguire, has also been building her credits as a director.
“I would like to see TV and movies look more like what I see in real life,” said King, who has directed episodes of Scandal, Being Mary Jane and Southland.
She’s also making her feature film directorial debut with Let the Church Say Amen, a teleplay adaptation of ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s best-selling book, which will air on BET later this summer. It stars Steve Harris, Naturi Naughton and Hosea Chanchez.
“It was just kind of a natural progression for me as an actress wanting to get behind the camera,” said King, adding that she has no plans to give up acting for a seat in the director’s chair. “There’s room for both.”
King is returning for the second seasons of American Crime and HBO drama series Leftovers, where she will play a doctor.
The 67th Emmy Awards nominees will be announced on July 16.
Michael J. Feeney is an award-winning journalist, public speaker and former New York Daily News reporter. Follow him on Twitter @mfeeney