Emmys Inch Toward Diversity With Noms for Black Actresses

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Taraji P. Henson

'Empire's' Taraji P. Henson and 'How to Get Away With Murder' star Viola Davis could make history in the drama actress category.

Hollywood took a baby step toward progress with Emmy nominations for Empire's Taraji P. Henson and How to Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis in the drama actress category.

If one should win, it would be a history making moment since a black actress has yet to take home a statue in the highly competitive category.

Davis, who plays the hypersexual law professor Annalise Keating in the Shonda Rhimes thriller, has said that the role as “healed” her and “shown a lot of little dark-skinned girls with curly hair a physical manifestation of themselves.”

Scandal star Kerry Washington was the first black actress to be nominated in the category in 18 years when she scored her first nom in 2013. Cicely Tyson was nominated in 1995 for Sweet Justice (and again Thursday for her guest role on Murder). Washington lost to Homeland's Claire Danes in 2013 and last year to The Good Wife's Julianna Marguiles.

Henson already has an Oscar nomination (for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), as does her Empire co-star Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow). But except for the scene-stealing Henson, the Emmys largely ignored the blockbuster Fox drama.

Emmy voters also turned out a diverse slate in the supporting comedy actor category with noms for Key & Peele's Keegan-Michael Key (but not co-star and writing partner Jordan Peele), Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Andre Braugher and Titus Burgess of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
 

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