The Emmys Embrace Diversity. Sort of.

The Emmys Embrace Diversity. Sort of.

Donald Glover took home two Emmys for the hit Atlanta, marking a milestone for minorities in Hollywood.

Donald Glover took home two Emmys for the hit Atlanta, marking a milestone for minorities in Hollywood.

Text: Cassidy Morrison

Donald Glover won big at the Emmys last night for his work on the hit comedy Atlanta. The actor and musician commonly known as Childish Gambino, took home two trophies for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series as well as Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series. Glover is the first black director to win an Emmy for best directing, and he is the second black actor to win for best actor in a comedy, after Robert Guillaume for Benson in 1985. This news is good but not great. Women and minorities especially have only made modest strides in being accepted in Hollywood, both in front and behind the camera.

Glover clearly recognized the gravity of his wins, because when he took the stage a second time to accept his award, he made a poignant shout out. “I want to thank Trump for making black people number one on the most oppressed list,” he quipped. “He’s the reason I’m probably up here.”

Throughout the night, the Emmys happily patted themselves on the back for embracing diversity, complete with a congratulatory montage. It was premature. Only a modicum of stories is centered on minority actors. Even fewer people of color work behind the camera. Sure, it was great seeing Donald Glover, Lena Waithe and Riz Ahmed win. But don’t let the reel fool you: Hollywood has a long way to go. Let it not go unnoticed that CBS, the network hosting the Emmys, has no new series with a female lead premiering this fall.

Donald Glover’s wins were well deserved to be sure. But CBS did not resolve systemic racism. “It feels like a dream,” Glover said backstage. “I don't want to make the best indie movie; I want to make the best movie. I don't believe in labels like that. I'm glad I made history, but that's not what I'm trying to do. I believe people deserve quality.”

Take note, show business.

Credits: Photo courtesy of Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

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