Judge Mablean Ephriam and her daughter Tajamika “Taj” Paxton are spending their Women’s History Month making history. The two women are both nominated for Daytime Emmy Awards this year—in what is to believed to be a first for an African-American mother/daughter duo.
Judge Mablean (as she is affectionately known) is nominated in the Best Legal/Courtroom Program category for her work on the Entertainment Studios produced show Justice with Judge Mablean. This is her first Emmy nomination. If Judge Mablean wins, she will be the first Black person to do so in her category.
Judge Mablean’s daughter is nominated in the Best Special Class Special category for the Logo TV Network’s Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty & The Beast in Me. Paxton serves as the Vice President of Documentaries at the network. This is her third Emmy nomination. She already has two Daytime Emmy Awards for the documentaries Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine and Out of Iraq.
Judge Mablean was so ecstatic when she learned via email that both she and her daughter were nominated, she let out a scream. “At that point, I hollered, literally. My nomination then had more meaning,” Judge Mablean shared in an exclusive interview with theGrio. “I am following in my daughter’s footsteps. I will be sharing the red carpet with my daughter, my flesh, my creation. This is absolutely amazing! The excitement was so magnified, I cried after the scream.”
Though the moment is a very special one for her and her daughter, Judge Mablean understands that the impact stretches beyond the two of them. “Our nomination is happening during an important time in history for women. Two women in the television industry, of different ages; two different generations, being recognized and nominated for a Daytime Emmy award,” said Judge Mablean. ” I thought about the history of African-American women being honored in Hollywood and we now join that small outstanding group of women. The nomination had even greater meaning. We are a first. We are making history. We are trailblazers. We bring hope to women, to young women, to senior women, to African-American women.”
Paxton is just as excited as her mother about the dual nominations.
“To have our work acknowledged in the same season is an honor. Even if we’re not the first mother/daughter team, we for sure have to be the most delighted,” she said. “My mother has been the benchmark for excellence my entire life. She’s my champion. She encourages my dreams and her support makes them feel possible. She always says I challenge her and it gets on her nerves. Secretly, I think she likes that I can match her, grit for grit.”
Professionalism and Compassion
Judge Mablean has a robust resumé of accomplishments that have led her to this point. She has been a fixture on television screens for almost 20 years, starting with her debut on Divorce Court in 1999. Her firm, but empathetic style quickly endeared her to viewers all over the country.
She has been sharing that warm smile and words of wisdom on Justice with Judge Mablean since 2014. But before she became everyone’s favorite jurist on the small screen, she was a prosecuting attorney in Los Angeles and after that, she had her own law firm. Today, she balances her television work with running the Mablean Ephriam Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to strengthening underserved communities in the Los Angeles area.
Because of Judge Mablean’s long track record of professionalism and compassion, Patricia Wilson (Justice with Judge Mablean’s Executive Producer) was not at all surprised about the Emmy nomination.
“When Byron Allen decided to expand Entertainment Studios’ court brand and we discussed Judge Mablean, I knew her show would be a home-run. Judge Mablean is a trailblazer with many years of hard work in this genre. The possibility of her continuing to make history by being the first African-American to win a Daytime Emmy in the Best Legal/Courtroom category is even more exciting,” said Wilson. “She has a heart of gold and a phenomenal ability to connect with people. It’s great to see her being acknowledged by the Television Academy.”
Faith, Family, and the Future
That heart of gold is evident when Judge Mablean talks about what her work means to her. “I am able to do what I love; entertain, educate, motivate and stimulate. TV gives me a platform to make a difference in the lives of other, to positively impact millions, to bring hope, laughter and information to people I will never know. As James Brown said, ‘I feel good,’” explained Judge Mablean. “I am enjoying the ride with Byron Allen. He is receptive to new ideas and encourages you to be your best. I look forward to working with Byron for many more years as the judge of ‘Justice with Judge Mablean’ and other creative projects.”
But in the end, Judge Mablean comes back to her family and her faith–enjoying this special moment with her daughter Taj, who is a star in her own right. Besides her Daytime Emmy Award-winning documentaries, the accomplished writer, director, and producer has a bevy of critically acclaimed projects under her belt. Her film Green Dragon, starring Forest Whitaker and Patrick Swayze, won the Humanitas Award. A Fat Girl’s Guide to Yoga–a project Taj wrote, edited, and produced—won high praise from critics and fans alike.
“This experience made me think of one of my favorite Biblical scriptures: ‘Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think, be glory’. The nomination was beyond my dreams. I dream of such awards for my daughter, but I’ve never dreamed of receiving a nomination for a Daytime Emmy award for myself.”
The 45th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be held on April 29th in Los Angeles and will be hosted by Mario Lopez and Sheryl Underwood.
Click here for the full list of Daytime Emmy nominees.