Emmys 2020: Issa Rae, 'Schitt's Creek,' Buzz Aldrin and More Historic Nominees

2:30 PM 9/9/2020

by Kimberly Nordyke

From the record-high percentage of Black performers earning acting noms to the record-breaking noms earned by talent from Nicole Byer to Ted Danson to Buzz Aldrin, this year's nominations feature a slew of milestones.

Insecure - Schitt's Creek - Apollo 11
HBO; POP TV; Photofest

2020 has been a downer of a year, to say the least, but when it comes to the Emmys nominations, there is much to celebrate — from the record-high percentage of Black performers earning acting nods to the slew of "firsts" and other historic milestones.

With the 2020 Emmys approaching (the Creative Arts Emmys will be handed out over five nights next week, leading up to main show, which airs Sept. 20 on ABC), here's a look at some notable nominees.

Keep up with all of THR's latest Emmys news here.

  • Buzz Aldrin

    First the moon, now the Emmys. Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin is up for best cinematography for a nonfiction program for Amazon Prime's Apollo 11 alongside Michael Collins. The documentary is nominated for five Emmys overall.

  • Apple TV+

    Apple TV+ landed 18 nominations this year, making history with the most program and acting nominations for a streaming service in its first year. Its nominations include including five total acting noms for The Morning Show and six programs nominated overall.

  • Black Performers

    Black actors have a stronger presence in the Primetime Emmy Awards than ever before, earning a record-high percentage of acting nods. Of the 102 acting nominations in the series, limited series and TV movie fields, Black performers secured 35 (among 33 actors, as Maya Rudolph and Giancarlo Esposito were both nominated twice). The 34.3 percent of nominations represents an all-time high for Black actors, besting the previous record of 27.7 percent two years ago. It's also a sizable year-to-year jump, as Black actors only garnered about 20 percent of acting nominations in 2019. Additionally, three of the six nominees for animation voiceover performance and half of the 10 shortform acting nominees are Black. Eleven of the 34 lead acting nominees are Black, including repeat honorees Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish), Don Cheadle (Black Monday), three-time nominee Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere), double nominee and past winner Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and three-time winner Regina King (Watchmen). In supporting categories, Black actors earned 14 of 44 nominations. They make up 10 of the 24 guest-star nominations.

  • Nicole Byer

    Nicole Byer, host of Netflix's Nailed It!, made history this year by becoming the first Black woman ever nominated in the category of best host for a reality or competition program. Byer also hosts this year's Creative Arts Emmys. This marks her first Emmy nom.

  • Ted Danson

    Ted Danson broke his own record for most noms for best actor in a comedy series with his third consecutive nom for NBC's The Good Place. This marks his 14th nom in the category. He's won twice before, for his role as Sam Malone in Cheers.

  • Dime Davis

    Dime Davis is the first Black woman to be nominated in the variety series directing category for her work on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show.

  • Norman Lear

    Norman Lear extended his record as the oldest-ever Emmy nominee. In 2019, Lear received his first nomination since 1991 for the live ABC special broadcast of All in the Family and The Jeffersons, for which he won in the outstanding variety special (live) category as an executive producer. He previously edged Carl Reiner for the title of oldest nominee ever by six months. This year, the 98-year-old is up for best variety special (live) for Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times.

  • Netflix

    For the second time ever, Netflix was the most nominated platform, easily besting HBO with 160 total nominations vs. 107 for the premium cable network. The streamer blew past last year's haul (118), while the WarnerMedia-owned cabler dropped from last year's then-record-breaking 137 nominees now that Emmy juggernaut Game of Thrones has wrapped its run. 

  • Issa Rae

    HBO's Insecure scored eight nominations this year, including best comedy series and best leading comedy series actress for Issa Rae. If Rae wins, she'll become only the second Black woman in history to win in that category. The first was Isabel Sanford for The Jeffersons in 1981. Meanwhile, if Insecure wins for comedy series, Rae will become the first Black woman creator of a premium cable show to take home that honor. Rae also is up for best variety sketch series as exec producer of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show.

  • Maya Rudolph

    Maya Rudolph became the first Black actor or actress to land two noms in the same category. She is up for best guest comedy actress for both The Good Place and Saturday Night Live.

  • 'Saturday Night Live'

    NBC's Saturday Night Live extended its record for most cumulative noms for a single program (its tally stands at 285 noms overall) while the show's executive producer Lorne Michaels extended his record for most cumulative noms for an individual (91 total).

  • 'Schitt's Creek'

    Schitt's Creek broke the record for most Emmy nominations by a comedy series in its final season. With 15 total noms, the Pop TV show topped the previous record-holder, 30 Rock, which earned 13 noms in 2013. 

    Lesley Goldberg and Rick Porter contributed to this report.