A record number of Black actors have been nominated for awards at this year’s 72nd Emmys which recognises TV excellence in front of and behind the camera.

Black actors make up 34% of the 2020 Emmys nominations, according to the Television Academy – up from 20% last year and 28% in 2018.

Maya Rudolph has two nominations in the Guest Actress in a Comedy category for her performances in Good Place and Saturday Night Live while Giancarlo Esposito could bag two awards for both Supporting Actor in the crime drama series Better Call Saul and Guest Actor in drama The Mandalorian.

Insecure stars Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji were nominated for Best Comedy Actress and Supporting Actress respectively while the HBO show, now in its fourth season, is up for Best Comedy.

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This is the first nom for Yvonne, who plays Issa’s best friend Molly. In an Instagram post when she shared the big news with her parents, she said her “heart is so full”.

Yvonne also bigged up A Black Lady Sketch Show which features in three categories, including  Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, but could also see female director Dime Davis secure an award for the season one finale.

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Other shows with a heavy presence across the categories include comedy Black-ish (Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson) and Watchmen, for which three of its Black supporting actors –  Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jovan Adepo, Louis Gossett Jr –  are competing against one another, but Stephen Williams also has a directing nomination for the series.

Regina King, who played Angela Abraham in Watchmen, is also against Octavia Spencer (Self Made) and Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere) for Best Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie.

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Responding to news that Watchmen dominated the Emmy nominations with a huge 26 nods, Regina said: “Every single writer, director, cast, and crew member dug deep and gave everything because we believed in Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore’s story that was reimagined by Damon Lindelof. Thank you Television Academy for recognising one of the most timely and important projects of our careers.”

The Emmy Awards will take place on 20 September, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

Comedian Leslie Jones announced the nominees in a virtual and comedic ceremony this week.

Other actors and actresses in for a potential win are Zendaya, Sterling K. Brown, Billy Porter, Thandie Newton, Uzo Aduba, Thandie Newton, Samira Wiley, Cicely Tyson and Phylicia Rashad.

Roger Ross Williams’ The Apollo and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Becoming are in the running for Documentary or Non-fiction Special and What We Do in the Shadows screenwriter Stefani Robinson has a Writing for a Comedy Series nomination.

Where is Black talent representing at the 2020 Emmys?


Best ComedyInsecure

Variety Sketch SeriesA Black Lady Sketch Show

Variety Talk SeriesThe Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Reality Host – Nicole Byer (Nailed It!); RuPaul (Drag Race); Karamo Brown (as part of the Queer Eye); Daymon John (as part of Shark Tank)

Unstructured Reality ProgrammeKevin Hart: Don’t F**k This Up; RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked; We’re Here

Documentary or Non-fiction SpecialThe Apollo; Becoming



Writing for a Comedy Series – Stefani Robinson for What We Do in the Shadows (On the Run)

Directing for a Limited Series – Stephen Williams for Watchmen (This Extraordinary Being)

Directing for a Variety Series – Dime Davis for A Black Lady Sketch Show (Born At Night, but Not Last Night)



Best Comedy Actress -Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish); Issa Rae (Insecure)

Best Comedy Actor – Anthony Anderson (Black-ish); Don Cheadle (Black Monday)

Best Drama Actress – Zendaya (Euphoria)

Best Drama Actor – Sterling K. Brown (This is Us); Billy Porter (Pose)

Best Actress, Limited Series or TV Movie – Regina King (Watchmen); Octavia Spencer (Self Made); Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere)

Best Actor, Limited Series or TV Movie – Jeremy Pope (Hollywood)

Supporting Actress, Comedy – Yvonne Orji (Insecure)

Supporting Actor, Comedy – Mahershala Ali (Ramy); Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Sterling K. Brown (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel); William Jackson Harper (The Good Place);  Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)

Supporting Actress, Drama – Thandie Newton (Westworld); Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Supporting Actor, Drama – Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul); Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)

Supporting Actress, Limited Series or a MovieUzo Aduba (Mrs America)

Supporting Actor, Limited Series or Movie – Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen); Jovan Adepo (Watchmen); Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend); Louis Gossett Jr (Watchmen)

Guest Actress, Comedy – Angela Bassett (A Black Lady Sketch Show); Maya Rudolph (The Good Place) and (Saturday Night Live); Wanda Sykes (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel)

Guest Actor, Comedy – Eddie Murphy (Saturday Night Live)

Guest Actress, Drama – Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black); Phylicia Rashad (This is Us); Cicely Tyson (How To Get Away With Murder)

Guest Actor, Drama – Ron Cephas Jones (This is Us); Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian)

For the full list of nominees, click here.

Written by Vicky Gayle  – Follow her: @vi_gayle

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