Over the last few years Hollywood has had a rude awakening to the cries of audiences, industry insiders, and creatives saying, “Representation matters!” I am Latino and I have a dilemma with both my passion and profession in the media industry. I love this year’s 2020 Emmy nominations, but I’m also disappointed to see that no Latinx series, talent, or stories were recognized by the TV Academy’s members. It’s very important I make this distinction because people don’t know who or how shows get nominated, and I’m here to tell you how exactly it goes down.
My opportunity to start working in the entertainment industry came after the watershed moment of #OscarsSoWhite back in 2017 when I became part of The Academy’s Academy Gold Internship Program. This was quite literally my golden ticket into being in the know within entertainment. From movements like #MeToo and Latino leaders called for a boycott of Paramount studios after seeing a lack of Latino representation in film, I heard it from within the industry first.
2020 Emmy Nominations: Latinx Shows and Acting Absent
As I advanced in my career, I had a front row seat to other landmark movements calling for representation. And as these moments unfold, they offered both hope and heartbreak to young people like me, BIPOC people, in the entertainment industry. Today another heartbreak moment came when no Latinx show or acting nominees were announced as part of the 2020 Emmy nominations. It saddened me because as a Latino, a storyteller, and a young person in this industry, it was another moment that affirmed that our voices are constantly muted.
Don’t get me wrong, I was proud to see that this year’s Emmys nominations showed progress in both its nominees and its announcement. The iconic Laverne Cox hosted the 72nd Emmy Awards Nominations Announcement that was live this morning Tuesday, July 28th at 8:30 AM PT. To see her reading these nominations, and then be nominated, was special. Then there was the recognition of BIPOC talent across leading actor and actress nominees as well. My heart has a special place for Zendaya and HBO’s Euphoria; Sandra Oh and Killing Eve; and Regina King and HBO’s Watchmen. Honestly, this is a strong class of contenders that speaks to the diversity of talent, stories, and voices housed on the silver screen.
But again, the vote was absent for Latino acting roles. It should be noted that Nadia Hallgreen, director of Becoming; Brian Lazarete and James Lee Hernandzes of McMillion$; and One Day At a Time in the category of Best Multi Cam Editing are part of the 2020 Emmy nominations. The pundits, including myself, felt Rita Moreno had a chance. Starz’s Vida had begun its final season, and most Emmy voters have love for a swan song of a season. This year’s nominees are a sobering reminder that voters, like those in the TV Academy, do not always vote solely based on press and rave reviews.
I know that politics that play a huge part in how voting works. There are explicit and implicit rules we follow in FYC campaigns, yet it comes down to who is in these groups with the power to vote. If this moment in time has taught me anything it’s that simply existing in the entertainment industry as a Latino may not be revolutionary enough. From seeing no acting nominees for Latinos, to having done research and learning of the dismal Oscars won by Latinx filmmakers, I know my work in this industry is just beginning.
In order to get nominated for an Emmy, you must be voted on by your peer group in the TV Academy. That means that behind-the-scenes either not enough Latinx people are in these groups or their stories are being seen as, "too ethnic." I know this because when I worked on my first Latinx directed, produced, and story, the studio tried to pigeonhole it to the U.S. Hispanic audience. I hate to say it but as an insider I know that Latinx stories are seen as different. This country's rhetoric has made it clear how it feels about BIPOC people; we are not welcome.
Seeing and hearing how voters address, or do not address, Latinx films and shows can be disheartening. But it's a reminder that I as a Latino creative, and part of the Latinx audience, must speak up but also show out. We need to tune in to Latinx and Hispanic shows. We need to support Latinx stories and talent by buying tickets and growing their influence. If we want the industry to change and things like the Emmy nominations to reflect America we must be inspired and empowered to be that change. These are my behind the scenes thoughts.
Let me know, who are your thoughts on the 2020 Emmy nominations? Comment down below or let me know by answering on socials and tagging me @Willsshowem
Thank you for reading these Words by Will! I'll see you in the next post.
Author William Samayoa
Marketer by profession and storyteller by passion. L.A. raised, proud Latino, and pop culture enthusiast.