September 20, 2021

Emmys 2021: Criticism mounts over winners' lack of diversity

WATCH: The 73rd Primetime Emmys

The 2021 Emmy Awards found itself in hot water on Sunday when not a single Black, Latinx or Asian actor won an acting award.

Forty-nine people of color were up for acting and reality competition awards, the most diverse nomination field in the show's history

MORE: Emmys 2021 recap: Memorable speeches, tributes and more

Among the nominees were Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez, who was the first trans actress to ever garner an Emmys nod in a leading acting category.

Cbs Photo Archive/CBS via Getty Images
Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez from "Pose" appear on stage at the 73rd Emmy Awards,on Sept. 19, 2021 in Los Angeles.

But the only people of color who took home a statuette during the ceremony were RuPaul for outstanding competition program for "RuPaul's Drag Race" and Michaela Coel for outstanding writing for a limited or anthology series or movie for "I May Destroy You." She was the first Black woman to win in that category and dedicated her win to "every single survivor of sexual assault" in a powerful acceptance speech.

Editor's Picks

Coel shared "a little something" she wrote for her fellow writers, encouraging them to "write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that is uncomfortable. I dare you," she said.

"In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us determine how we feel about ourselves, and see in turn still the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to show equate to success," she said. "Do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for awhile and see what comes to you in the silence."

MORE: Emmys 2021: Full winners list

One of the biggest upsets of the night was the late Michael K. Williams, whose riveting performance on "Lovecraft Country" did not manifest the outstanding supporting actor in a drama series as predicted. Instead, the honor went to Tobias Menzies of "The Crown" for his portrayal of Prince Philip. Kerry Washington accepted Menzies' award on his behalf.

Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images, FILE
Michael K. Williams is seen in his award show look for the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on March 31, 2021 in Miami.

Critics pointed out that this marks the second time in a year that a late Black actor lost to a British actor who was a no-show. During the 2021 Oscars, Chadwick Boseman was favored to win best actor but lost to Anthony Hopkins, who had the Academy accept his honor on his behalf.

Rich Fury/Getty Images
Rege-Jean Page Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez from "Pose" appear on stage at the 73rd Emmy Awards,on Sept. 19, 2021 in Los Angeles.

Another upset came during the lead actor in a drama series category, where four of the six nominees were actors of color -- Sterling K. Brown, Regé-Jean Page, Jonathan Majors and Billy Porter. Josh O'Connor of "The Crown" ultimately collected the award.

MORE: Emmys 2021: See the most memorable red carpet looks of the night

Reaction to the night's ceremony was fierce, with actress Yvette Nicole Brown tweeting during the show, "Every chance they had to make history in a meaningful way, they passed on it. Just said, 'Naw, son.' Mmkay. Got it."

Others also chimed in throughout the ceremony:

The controversy has renewed calls for the Emmy Awards to reevaluate its voting base, in addition for boycotts.

The hashtag #EmmysSoWhite also began trending on Twitter.