Emmy Nods for ‘When They See Us’ and ‘Pose’ Remind Us That Marginalized Narratives Can Become Compelling, Universal Stories

Ava DuVernay BeLatina
Photo Credit news.cornell.edu

Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us earned 16 nominations for the 2019 Emmy’s, including nominations for Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actor, and Actress in a Limited Series or Movie — Jharrel Jerome and Nicey Nash, respectively — and a handful more for Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. Upon the announcement of these nominations, DuVernay expressed her gratitude to the Exonerated Five for allowing her to share the story of their lives. “It all started here,” she tweeted. “Thank you @TelevisionAcad for honoring the work. Saluting every single crew and cast member. And saluting Raymond, Korey, Antron, Yusef, and Kevin. Love you, brothers.” 

When they see us Belatina
Photo Credit Netflix EPISODE 2 Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix PICTURED Ava DuVernay, Jharrel Jerome

Cast members of When They See Us also reframed their nominations, acknowledging the men and families whose lives were turned upside down by the media, the public, and a broken justice system. Aunjanue Ellis, who was nominated for an Outstanding Lead Actress award, characterized her nomination as a tribute to the Exonerated Five. “Let’s all say their names,” Ellis said in a statement. “Yusef’s mother, Sharonne Salaam, is nothing less than a warrior for her son and a survivor of emotional violence a few of us will ever understand. I am utterly grateful to her. Thank you to the visionary Ava DuVernay and Netflix for giving me the blessing to be a part of this act of restorative justice.”

Pose also made history for one of its nominations: Billy Porter, who was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, is the first openly gay black actor to have ever received an Emmy nod in the category. Pose also received a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series. Notably, none of the show’s trans actors were included in this year’s Emmy nominations list. Sarah Kate Ellis, the President, and CEO of GLAAD, celebrated Pose’s nomination as well as Porter’s historic achievement. “The Television Academy sent a powerful message today not only about LGBTQ representation, but diverse LGBTQ representation on television,” she said in a statement. “Today’s nominees better showcase the diversity of LGBTQ people from the trans and LGBTQ people of color in FX’s groundbreaking drama Pose.” 

FX's 'Pose' TV Show Presentation, Panel, PaleyFest, Los Angeles, USA - 23 Mar 2019
Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Buchan/Variety/REX/Shutterstock (10163280a)
Mj Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Indya Moore
FX’s ‘Pose’ TV Show Presentation, Panel, PaleyFest, Los Angeles, USA – 23 Mar 2019

Ellis described Porter’s work as transformative in the entertainment industry, something that he recently acknowledged with grace and wisdom in an interview with The Wrap. “There are a lot of older white people who are watching the show who stop me on the street and thank us for being brave and bold enough to stand inside of our truth,” he said. “Some of the people that I’ve come in contact with are conservatives. Conservatives are human beings, too. They can be moved and can be changed. It’s all about respecting each other’s humanity — we get to teach people how to do that. How to love. How to choose love and not hate.”

The Emmy Award ceremony will take place this fall on Sunday, September 22nd.

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