July 25, 2024

The 2016 Emmy Awards featured the most diverse list of nominations and winners in the history of the program.

In the past, the ceremony featured primarily white nominees. Such restrictive conditions were recently brought to light with the past Oscars ceremony, in which many people took to social media to express their beliefs that people of color were being snubbed in favor of their white counterparts.

By the end of the ceremony, several milestones were made in regards to recognizing the contributions people of color have made in the television industry.

Rami Malek from USA Network’s “Mr. Robot” won the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, which was the first time in 18 years that a non-white actor has won the award.

Three non-white actors won for their supporting roles in a miniseries — Regina King from “American Crime,” and Sterling K. Brown and Christopher Darden from “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

Frank Mihelich, assistant professor of theater, highlighted the importance of such diversity.

“Diversity is hugely important because part of storytelling is making sure all voices are invited to the table,” Mihelich said. “If it’s only white males, we are getting a really skewed image of what
society is.”

By having diversity in film and television, people of different cultures are able to describe stories unique to their heritage in an honest manner. Through this honesty, audiences that may not be typically represented on screen can relate to the situations these characters experience.

It is when stories are given the sincere, dedicated work they deserve that award-worthy moments are made.

Rachel Boulware, junior communication studies major, said she hopes the industry will continue with representation of all races.

“It’s a step forward,” Boulware said. “They say this year’s Emmy’s is the most diverse it’s ever been.”

Still, this year’s Emmy Awards was only a small step toward the ultimate goal as viewers continue to demand their voices are heard and their stories told. Although there is pressure on the industry, viewers ultimately play the greatest role in supporting diverse shows.

Rebecca Lam, junior film studies major, said films that challenge your beliefs matter.

“As viewers, watching shows that make you come out of your comfort zone, or watching films that make you think, is what’s important,” Lam said.

The strongest voice viewers can have is what they choose to watch and which  stories they support.

Heading into another year of diversity and inclusion in the industry, more milestones can be made as the entertainment industry continues to shift and reflect continuously evolving ideologies in society.

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