Broadway star Tituss Burgess got his big break on TV in the reccurring role of D’Fawn on “30 Rock.” That show’s creator Tina Fey’s cast him as a regular on her next show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” He has earned three consecutive Emmy nominations for his scene-stealing performance as Titus Andromedon. Should he finally win this year he will become the second African American Best Comedy Supporting Actor champ after Robert Guillaume (‘Soap’) prevailed in 1979.
Guillaume won on his first and only nomination for “Soap” in 1979. Three years later Ron Glass received his only nomination for “Barney Miller” in 1982. Eddie Murphy made history as the first African American cast member from “Saturday Night Live” nominated in 1983 (the category was known then as Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy, Variety or Music Series). Malcolm-Jamal Warner scored a single nomination for his work on “The Cosby Show” in 1986. Meshach Taylor also scored a single nomination for his work on “Designing Women” in 1989.
The category would go two decades years without an African American numbering among the nominees until Tracy Morgan on “30 Rock” scored a single nomination in 2009. Emmy favorite Andre Braugher switched from drama to comedy with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and earned three consecutive nominations beginning in 2014. And Keegan-Michael Key became the second sketch player to contend with bids for “Key and Peele” in 2015-2016.
Burgess is currently in third place according to Gold Derby’s odds at 11/1. Alec Baldwin leads at 3/10 for his scathing impersonation of Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” In second place is last year’s surprise winner Louie Anderson for “Baskets” with odds of 10/1.
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