Cable programming dominated the recently announced Emmy Awards nominations, including a near sweep of the best drama series category and multiple nominations for nearly 40 cable shows.
The medium also had a strong showing in another important category — nominations for actors and actresses of color. Let’s be clear — both the cable and broadcast networks still have a long way to go in terms of providing diverse images on screen in numbers that adequately reflect the country’s growing ethnic makeup as well as TV’s sizable multicultural viewing audience.
Many of the handful of quality performances by minority actors that were recognized by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences this year for potential Emmys, though, were showcased on cable.
The only two minority actors nominated for an Emmy in leading acting roles were stars of cable series. Don Cheadle received a best comedy actor nod for his role as cutthroat management consultant Marty Kaan on Showtime’s House of Lies. And Idris Elba will vie for the best actor in a drama series Emmy for his starring role as conflicted detective John Luther in BBC America’s psychological thriller Luther.
Giancarlo Esposito was also nominated for best supporting actor for his depiction of villainous character Gustavo (Gus) Fring on AMC’s Emmy-nominated drama series Breaking Bad.
On the broadcast side, Sofia Vergara garnered her third consecutive Emmy nomination for best supporting actress for her role on ABC’s Modern Family, while Loretta Devine earned a guest actress nomination for her appearance on ABC’s drama series Grey’s Anatomy.
Actress/comedian Maya Rudolph was nominated for hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live, while Margaret Cho earned an Emmy nod for a guest-star role on NBC’s 30 Rock.
Again, cable and broadcast networks need to do a better job of creating more roles for actors and actresses of color in traditional drama and comedy series, original movies and mini-series that can compete for future Emmy Awards. But for now, cable seems to be moving in the right direction.