Why isn’t Kerry Washington (‘Scandal’) a lock to win Emmy?

Kerry Washington stars on one of the hottest shows on TV. The second season finale of her critically acclaimed ABC political drama “Scandal” topped nine million viewers last week. Yet she sits in the seventh slot on our list of the potential six nominees for Best Drama Actress at the Emmys. If she can reap a bid, she is spoilt for choice when it comes to which single episode to submit to the jury that determines the winner. 

So, why is she not a frontrunner? Could it be racial bias? 

After all, Washington stars on the highest-rated series among the top tier of women vying for Emmy recognition. “Scandal” is generating lots of buzz, meriting the covers of Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide. And she got great reviews: Alan Sepinwall (Hitfix) said, “she owns every moment she’s on camera, and is completely believable as someone who’d feel comfortable charging into the Oval Office to yell at the Commander-in-Chief” while EW called her “a stunning scene stealer.” 

The TV academy has a shameful record of recognizing African American women in leading roles on drama series. Only four have even contended in this race — Debbie Allen (“Fame”; 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985), Alfre Woodard (“St. Elsewhere”; 1986), Regina Taylor (“I’ll Fly Away”; 1992, 1993) and Cicely Tyson (“Sweet Justice”; 1995) — and none won.

Allen lost first to Michael Learned (“Nurse”) and then for three years running to Tyne Daly (“Cagney & Lacey”). Woodard was bested by Daly’s co-star Sharon Gless. Taylor lost to Dana Delaney (“China Beach”) and then Kathy Baker (“Picket Fences”) who also defeated Tyson. While these women were worthy enough, where was the outcry over the exclusion of African American actresses from the winners circle? 

That no African American woman has even contended for Best Drama Actress since 1995 is shocking. Yes, they are rarely given the opportunity to headline their own shows but when they do, surely they merit Emmy consideration.

Oscar nominee Angela Bassett did some of the best work of her stellar career on the final season of “ER” but was snubbed. While the medical drama “HawthoRNe” had its problems, star Jada Pinkett Smith was outstanding. Likewise, Khandi Alexander in the critical darling “Treme” which has been ignored by the academy much as “The Wire” was. 

Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”) broke the color barrier for women at the Oscars at the 74th annual ceremony in 2001. That she did was due to the rising awareness of this blot on the motion picture academy’s record. 

Isn’t it time that TV academy voters do likewise?

11 thoughts on “Why isn’t Kerry Washington (‘Scandal’) a lock to win Emmy?

  1. Who and Why is someone continually keeping Kerry Washington’s name in the press. I think I know the why, to raise her profile. Just because a show has “buzz”, high ratings and is popular does that mean it is a quality show. Of course not. Is her performance outstanding compared to the other possible nominees, I don’t see it. I am sick of her race being brought up over and over again. What does that have to do with anything. Award shows are not in the business of “making history’. If she is nominated it will be because of that. she has been everywhere except your kitchen table since the show debuted. Is this a popularity contest. She should stay off the red carpet, out of every magazine and newspaper and off of every talk show there is. Let your talent speak for it self like everyone else.

  2. Lisa you sound petty. If a celebrity is on a hit show then of course they would be on the red carpet. Why should she stay out of magazines when the fans want to see her? Her talent is speaking for itself and that’s why she is the number on the hottest show on TV.

  3. So, I can get behind the idea that there is systematic & institutionalized discrimination in the TV industry insofar as black actress being less likely to land roles as leads, etc., but that doesn’t mean the Emmys should reward a performance which is almost certainly not the best of the year in the glorified soap Scandal in order to make some racialized statement. The industry should take heart of the underlying root problem (racial bias and consequent lack of roles worth rewarding in the awards context) rather than making a charity case out of Kerry Washington.

  4. Lisa you are a racist and a hater, seem as if you wanted the role, why not go jump off the deep end of the ocean. In my opinion she deserves all she getting, hater you.

  5. While I don’t think Lisa is a racist—she didn’t exactly say anything demeaning about Kerry—I do disagree with her assessment. Kerry is “everywhere” because she’s on a hit TV show and the people want to see her. You can’t fault her for that. She isn’t being invited to talk shows because she’s black. She’s not on the cover of magazines because she’s black. She’s popular and there’s more of her present these days because Scandal is one of the most popular dramas on TV. The Big Bang Theory guys are all over magazines for the same reason. That’s the way these things go. It’s a given to include a star from a popular show because it guarantees viewership and magazine sales. I think Lisa needs to just take that big ol’ angry stick out of her bu m and relax a bit. It’s not that serious. And PS: It is very necessary to make a deal out of Ms. Washington’s blackness and the lack of Emmy love for women of color.

  6. You know why she is not a lock. Because her performance is no where near that of the other potential nominees. It’s that simple. She is not a better actress. The material is not there. ABC is working overtime to keep her and the show in the forefront. I get the impression that her race being brought up constantly is a ploy to get her nominated. A person should be nominated on their merits. She shouldn’t get a sympathy nomination.

  7. The reason Kerry Washington is not a lock for an Emmy is because Scandal is crap. The writing on the show is awful. Kerry may be a good actress but she’s only as good on Scandal as what she’s presented with. Her performance is nothing compared to the other actresses in the running for an Emmy in the lead category. It has nothing to do with race. Hopefully she’ll have the opportunity to be the lead in quality show some day.

  8. Why even bring race into this?? May I suggest that you are in fact the racist for suggesting she should win because she is black? She didnt win because Clare Danes won, who thoroughly deserved it. Race has nothing to do with it.

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