In the past few years, it felt like black creatives in Hollywood were finally getting the recognition they deserved. Taking control of our narratives across TV and film and getting (read: taking) the opportunity to showcase ourselves in a different light.
Zendaya’s portrayal of Rue in Euphoria highlighted the struggles of a depressed black teenager coping with bipolar disorder and a substance abuse problem, while award-season regular Regina King gave us fearless justice seeking vigilante in HBO’s Watchmen. Susan Kelechi Watson reigned in another season of an emotional rollercoaster on NBC’s This Is Us.
All exemplary performances. All shut out from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 2020 Golden Globe nominations. Why? Well for starters, no women of color were nominated for a TV actress Golden Globe award, periodT. Asian actress Sandra Oh didn’t even get a nod for her work in Killing Eve, even though she took home Best TV actress in a Drama TV series last year. *stares in Black disgust*
All of those snubs were infuriating (to say the least), but I have to admit, the blatant neglect of Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us hits different. The acclaimed four-part series based on the real-life story of five black and brown boys seemed like a promising contender for some Golden Globes recognition, with Jharrel Jerome having already taken home an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or TV movie for his portrayal of Korey Wise of the Exonerated Five in September. Niecey Nash, who also received an Emmy nomination for her supporting role as Korey’s mom Deloris Wise, seemed like another likely contender for a Globe nomination. But alas, shut out. Neither received a nod. Why?
Well, When They See Us is the perfect example (harsh reminder) of how America continues to move through its biggest issues (racial inequality, bias, stereotype, and the subsequent injustices associated with it): by simply ignoring it. But just because we ignore it, isn’t like it didn’t happen. It’s much easier to overlook the story of how America’s justice system worked to fail the lives of five young men of color. It’s a hard watch yes, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be watched and appreciated and acknowledge for its brilliant storytelling and beautiful portrayal of innocent boys. I guess it’s much easier for HFPA members to digest a narrative they’re used to when it comes to black people. Let’s face it, while the HFPA is comprised of international journalists based in Los Angeles, not all people of color are created equal, or treated as such. And neither are our works of art.
At least, Zendaya, King, Jerome, and Nyong’o were nominated for various awards with Screen Actors Guild, Critic’s Choice, and the African American Film Critics Association. Though, I have to wonder, if color wasn’t a glaring factor, whether these talented creatives would get their recognition across the board. Alas, I’ll never know. But I hope in years to come, society takes four steps forward, two for general progress and two more to make up for this Golden Globes nonsense. Is that too much to ask?