Jasmine Cephas Jones Wins Emmy for Blink-and-You-Miss-Her Quibi Episode

Jasmine Cephas Jones - Getty - H 2019
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Thursday night's best actress in a short form comedy or drama series Emmy win for #FreeRayshawn star Jasmine Cephas Jones was historically significant for several reasons.

For one thing, it was one of two Emmys that night recognizing work on a Quibi show (Cephas Jones' costar Laurence Fishburne also won), the first such recognition ever accorded that struggling new service. For another, it was the first part of what proved to be an historic tandem of wins, the second part coming on Saturday night when her dad Ron Cephas Jones won best guest actor in a drama series for This Is Us, making them the first father and daughter to win acting Emmys in the same year.

But what has not yet been noted is that the younger Cephas Jones, a 31-year-old up-and-comer, won for an episode of #FreeRayshawn in which she has less than 30 seconds of screen time and her character, Tyisha, speaks only three words. Talk about 'quick bites!' The former is close to a record-low (that distinction belongs to Ellen Burstyn for her 15-second cameo in 2005's Mrs. Harris) and the latter appears to be a record-low.

Every Emmy-nominated performer is required to submit a specific episode for voters to consider before casting their final ballot; voters, in turn, are required to click a box that appears next to an affadavit swearing to the fact that they have watched at least that one episode submitted by each nominee, and their ballot cannot be submitted unless and until they have clicked that.

Cephas Jones submitted #FreeRayshawn episode #109, entitled "They All Want Me Dead, Don't They?" At the 7:50 mark of that episode, she sits down next to Stephan James' Rayshawn and asks "What happen [sic] now?" That's it.

This is not a rules violation — the only requirements to be eligible in the category of best actress in a short form comedy or drama series in 2020 were that a performer have appeared "in 50% or more of the eligible episodes" and turned in their episode submission by June 5 so that a TV Academy panel created in 2019 to vet short form submissions and make sure they warrant Emmy consideration would have time to do so prior to nomination balloting beginning on July 2.

But it is certainly a bizarre situation that makes one wonder (a) why Cephas Jones submitted this particular #FreeRayshawn episode, given that she has considerably more screen time in other episodes; (b) why this submission wasn't flagged by the TV Academy panel; and (c) whether voters nominated and honored her performance solely on the basis of the episode submission, which seems unlikely, or on the basis of the full season, or having not watched any of the show at all.

Alas, we are unlikely to receive answers to any of these, well, short questions!