Here we are, in the middle of a global pandemic, complaining about the 2020 Emmy nominations…but for good reason! If you’ve been online in the past couple of days, you’ve likely run into some online commentary explaining how the superbly talented actresses of FX’s “POSE” (created by Ryan Murphy) were royally snubbed by the 2020 Emmy’s nominations. And these aren’t redundant or pointless complaints, they’re genuine and necessary challenges from a community who supports these women – trailblazers who have been and continue to be integral forces in television, entertainment and the #BlackTransLivesMatter movement, both on and off-screen.
Fans have banded behind actress M.J. Rodriguez specifically, saying her performance as Blanca in Season 2 was snubbed in the Best Actress category, and I personally agree. Not only is she obviously missing from the category, but calling it out is crucial if we want to help shape an all-inclusive and more diverse entertainment industry (which has been anything but easy since the very birth of Hollywood).
It’s not solely about who we think should be nominated, it’s about a globally-viewed event like the Emmy’s continuing to underrepresent and overlook more than worthy black trans actors: have they not seen “POSE?!” What more does M.J. Rodriguez need to do to get a nomination?!
“POSE” is a show about the black and brown trans experience, yet there’s only been one (cisgender) actor – the divine Billy Porter – who’s ever been recognized by the Emmy’s (having won Best Actor in 2019 for his portrayal of the beloved Pray Tell, which he is nominated for again this year). Porter’s win, and nominations, are all well deserved, and no one should diminish his achievements by any means (it’s hard enough for a gay black man to get a role in Hollywood, let alone an award), but why is it that when we talk about the groundbreaking queer show “POSE” – a show about 1980s ballroom culture in NYC that has ignited important conversations about oppression, cultural appropriation, racism, transphobia, abuse and marginalization – we see next to no nominations?
While it’s truly great to see Zendaya nominated at such a young age for her strong lead performance in HBO’s smash hit, “Euphoria,” and it’s groundbreaking to see another 15 nominations were given to Canadian queer comedy, “Schitt’s Creek” (which already plays out like a win for Canadian Television as well as the LGBTQ+ community), why is that Laverne Cox was nominated for Best Guest Actress in a Television Show for “Orange Is The New Black” while M.J. Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson and Angelica Ross from “POSE” are literally nowhere to be seen?! You have to wonder what the Emmy’s were thinking…
It needs to be said that the show “POSE” is incomparable, and it has been nominated for Best Actor, Hair, Makeup, and Costume Design at the 2020 Emmy Awards, which is, of course, fabulous in its own right! But the main characters, the ones played by incredibly talented trans actresses like M.J. Rodriguez and Indya Moore, they’re the ones who bring the eleganza to the ballroom! Without their talents, the acclaimed hair, makeup and costumes that the Emmy’s were so quick to nominate, would fall flat: Elektra Abundance is flawless in every scene she’s in, but only one person can make her outfits pop as they do, and that’s the one and only Dominique Jackson! It’s not just about her looks or grandeur – Elektra has some of the most memorable scenes and lines of the season!
So seeing these women noticeably missing from the 2020 Emmy nominations list is very frustrating, and make no mistake, this is a community snub! It’s not enough for us to bask in the “Schitt’s Creek” glory hole when the most marginalized and arguably most talented in our community are being shunned by the very business they thrive in…AGAIN!
Allow me to close by saying “POSE” is a show that has made me both laugh and cry! Sure, the ballroom scenes will make you want to get up off your couch and strut your stuff to Jody Watley, but once the judge’s scores are in and the glitter settles, “POSE” holds a mirror up to society, unapologetically showing viewers the very real situations black and brown LGBTQ+ people are faced with, not only in the 80s but right up until today. Specifically black trans women! By snubbing them, the Emmy’s just proved this show’s subject matter to be true.