We've been forced to conform to the status quo for so long, there's a belief that our current circumstances are unique. The conversations happening now are merely a continuation of the equality movements of the past. In order to protect and liberate Black lives, the world needs to see Black stories represented with nuance and regarded as equal. At every level we have to be willing to reimagine the structures in place, rather than accept the current ones as good enough.
The Television Academy has an important duty to curate consideration for content from Black creatives, especially titles that may not be as mainstream. Since voters are biased towards the artists they know and love, there needs to be an ongoing effort to ensure a balanced membership demographic. This would include outreach and discounted/sponsored memberships for Black artists to repair the longstanding disparities in Hollywood.
I'm a lead actress going into the fourth season of a Netflix comedy based in anti-racist content. It's a treasure of performances, writing, comedic storytelling, and directing that rivals any of the shows nominated in the past 3 years. However, Dear White People has never seen a nomination. Our show presents some of the most important and socially conscious episodes of television ever made, and it has never been an Emmy contender. Our recent surge in viewership (upwards of 600%) reflects our title being sought out as the world searches for answers. Why have we remained hidden for so long? Is it our title? Is it because our show confronts people with the truth? Is it because not enough of our peers are Academy members? Or is it because we've been unlucky, and fingers crossed for next season?
The truth is, this trend reinforces our distrust in the mainstream meters of success. How can I base my artistic value on an accolade I've been eligible for (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy), but in my 31 years have never seen a Black woman win? If I don't see that representation as a performer, I must remove my faith in the process or else I'm in an abusive relationship. If studios don't see that representation, they don't greenlight or devote resources towards inclusive titles because they will only ever be considered "long shots" for awards. This cycle of distrust is reflected back to us in the devastating realities of the Black American experience. Black artists, among all the necessary inclusions, require sincere advocacy from the Television Academy and studios when submitted in a category for nomination.
The exposing of truths, deep unlearning, and reimagining of systems can be uncomfortable. However, Hollywood has the ability and incredible assignment to affect cultural and societal change. No one is free until everyone is free.
Logan Browning is an actress, currently starring as Samantha White in the Netflix series Dear White People.
The statements and viewpoints expressed in the article above are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions or viewpoints of the Television Academy, the Television Academy Foundation, or their members, officers, directors, employees, or sponsors.