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Little Diversity at Emmy Awards

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By Lea M. Cash –

I was twelve years old when I first watched the Emmy Awards on television. The glitzy glamour of Hollywood and its dazzling array of Red Carpet star power while living in Brighton, Massachusetts, a million miles away, were so magical and majestic to me. One day as an entertainment reporter, I told myself at 12, that I was going to be there— smack dab in the middle of it with all that glamour and star power. In the last decade, I have attended two previous primetime Emmy Awards celebrations, and every time I have attended, it feels like I am living my dream—but, not this year.

This year, at the three-hour telecast of the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards hosted by Jimmy Fallon, at L.A. LIVE Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, I felt differently. I recognized that people of color were noticeably missing in a large way.

Perhaps, I was too caught up in the dream to notice it before. I began to have an uncomfortable feeling in my spirit, and that feeling in my heart grew to disappointment, sadness and finally hurt as the evening evolved. I kept asking other media folks, “Where are… all the hard working, outstanding celebrities that work on television that look like me?

Many answered, “Well, this is the Emmys and there is a whole different mindset here.”

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (The Oscars) have come a long way with their “Black Out”. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (The Emmys) has a long way to go with their “Black Out”.

Therefore, I adjusted my heart, and focused on those celebrities that everybody loves—the ones that transcend color: Like Susan Sarandon, Ed O’Neill, Betty White, John Lithgow, Eva Longoria and Glenn Close. I even said hello to the legendary actress Ann Margret who won an Emmy Award, previously on Saturday at the Creative Art/Emmy Awards, a subset handed out to behind the scene actors for guest starring roles. She received an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.” She had a guest-starring role on Law & Order. Then, I was given the opportunity on the Red Carpet to meet Tom Hanks. What an extraordinary experience. On the Red Carpet, I gave handshakes and hugs to so many celebrated faces that I somewhat lost count. I snapped photos of the people of color I did see, except for LL Cool J and his wife.

The shocker of the evening was meeting the godfather himself Al Pacino. Other larger than life notables were Tom Selleck and George Clooney. Clooney said playfully backstage in the media room, “Hey with those guys, I was reduced to fourteen years old. As a teenager I had a poster of Al Pacino and Tom Selleck on my wall.” Pacino and Clooney usually duck and dodge the media. They both were questioned about that and told quite honestly, how media was happy to see them tonight. Pacino won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. He played the role of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in HBO’s “You Don’t Know Jack.” In addition, George Clooney was honored with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. He has been the driving force behind “America”, “A Tribute to Heroes”, “Tsunami Aid”, “A Concert of Hope” and most recently the “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon.

The television drama to receive the most nominations was “Mad Men”, with 17. The comedy to receive the most nominations was “Glee”, with 19. The miniseries to receive the most nominations was “The Pacific”, with 24. The Outstanding made for Television Movie was “Temple Grandin”, The Outstanding Drama Series was “Mad Men”, and the Outstanding Comedy Series was “Modern Family”.

Another winner worth noting was Jane Lynch who plays the villain Sue Sylvester on “Glee”.

It is my hope that I will continue to live my dream, which includes one day the Academy of Television Arts & Science changing its reflection of television excellence, into the brilliant and colorful real deal as it is and not as it once was. There should be nominations of a wide diverse nature, which reflect what all American viewers are watching. In my own silent way of rebellion towards the Emmys, I went home immediately after the show.

While walking the long distance to the media parking lot an African American male in a tuxedo, security, (an off duty police officer), on a golf cart pulled up beside me. “Tired?” he asked. “Not too many of us out tonight. Thought I’d give my sistah a ride.”

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