A beautiful thing happened on the way to the Emmys. Just as those of us watching the 2015 Emmys were wondering if a person of color was going to win anything last night, Regina King was announced as the winner of the Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie category. Yes, Brenda Jenkins from 227, who has been steadily grinding on Hollywood’s big and small screens for decades, took home the statue in a category where fellow nominees included Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, and Angela Bassett for American Horror Story: Freak Show; Mo’Nique for Bessie, and Zoe Kazan for Olive Kitteridge.
What made the win even more fabulous, was King’s reaction, one of shock, awe and true surprise. To say that she did not see this win coming is an understatement – as understated as her brilliant performance as Aliyah Shadeed on ABC’s critically-acclaimed hit American Crime. King delivered week after week, as the Muslim sister of a fatally-flawed brother Carter, who was fighting a battle as a black man in America, he would never win.
King, who has served up amazing performances in other ensemble television productions like 24 and Southland, not to mention held her own while playing opposite film superstars Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and Sandra Bullock, gave a lovely speech while receiving much love and respect from fellow actress Taraji P. Henson, who gave her the award along with Empire co-star Terence Howard. King has recently joined the cast of HBO’s The Leftovers, where she plays the role of a doctor left behind in the most desolate place in what may be the afterworld. . Maybe she’ll add another Emmy to her shelf next year.
Celebrated actress Viola Davis made history last night as the first African-American woman to win in the Best Dramatic Lead Actress category at the Emmys. Davis “bossed up” and gave the acceptance speech of all acceptance speeches, quoting Harriet Tubman and evoking Soujourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech “Ain’t I a Woman” calling out Hollywood for the historically limited roles for black women. Davis said, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is simply opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” said the star of ABC’s wildly popular How to Get Away with Murder. She went on to thank writers including Shonda Rhimes, “who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”
Well said Queen Viola, well said.
This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news blog The Burton Wire. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual.