Drama supporting actor is the only acting Emmy category without a black champ, but now Giancarlo Esposito can make history

Best Drama Supporting Actor is the last acting category at the Emmys that has yet to produce a black winner, but that could end this year.

Tuesday’s nominations saw Giancarlo Esposito make the cut for “Better Call Saul” alongside his co-star Jonathan Banks, “Game of Thrones” stars Alfie Allen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage, Michael Kelly (“House of Cards”) and Chris Sullivan (“This Is Us”). Esposito was in 10th place in our odds, so his inclusion is a slight surprise. He was snubbed two years ago when he reprised his role as Gus Fring on the “Breaking Bad” spin-off, but the competition thinned out this year with four open slots, which was apparently enough room for three “Thrones” and two “Saul” dudes.

SEE 2019 Emmy nominations: Here’s the complete list of nominees

A former nominee in the category for “Breaking Bad” in 2012, Esposito is one of 11 black performers to have been up in Best Drama Supporting Actor and one of four this decade; Andre Braugher (“Men of a Certain Age,” 2010-11), and Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”) and Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”) in 2017 are the others.

Jones and Wright were both nominated again last year, but in different categories: The former won Best Drama Guest Actor and the latter moved up to lead. Their defections left Best Drama Supporting Actor as the only acting category without a person of color nominee last year — not great optics when all four guest awards went to black performers for the first time. (There are multiple acting races this year without POC nominees.)

Best Drama Supporting Actor became the last category not to have a black champ following Viola Davis‘ historic Best Drama Actress victory for “How to Get Away with Murder” in 2015.

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