Despite a record 34.3 percent of Black acting Emmy nominees this year, Best Drama Supporting Actor will remain the sole long-running acting category that has yet to anoint a Black champ. “The Morning Show’s” Billy Crudup took home the honor on Sunday, beating two people who could’ve ended this drought, Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”) and Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”).
Nicholas Braun (“Succession”), Kieran Culkin (“Succession”), Mark Duplass (“The Morning Show”), Matthew Macfadyen (“Succession”) and Bradley Whitford (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) were also nominated. Crudup was the odds-on favorite, while Esposito was in third and Wright was in sixth.
Esposito and Wright are two of the 11 Black men who’ve earned 20 drama supporting actor nominations between them since the Emmys established genre-specific acting categories in 1970. Esposito was first nominated in 2012 for “Breaking Bad” and returned last year for reprising Gus Fring on “Better Call Saul.” Wright, who won an Emmy in 2004 for his supporting turn on the HBO miniseries “Angels in America,” was shortlisted for “Westworld” in 2017. He shifted to lead, where he was nominated, for the second season in 2018, but moved back to supporting this year.
Since Esposito’s first bid, the only other Black nominee in drama supporting actor was Ron Cephas Jones, who contended alongside Wright in 2017 for “This Is Us” and has since bagged two guest statuettes for the NBC drama in 2018 and on Saturday.
In 2018, drama supporting actor was the only category without a person of color nominee — even more notable after all four guest categories went to Black performers for the first time. Last year, there were multiple acting races without non-white nominees. This year, every acting category includes a person of color.
Best Drama Supporting Actor became the last long-running acting category not to have a Black champ after Viola Davis‘ Best Drama Actress victory for “How to Get Away with Murder” in 2015. Even the short form acting categories, which were added in 2016, have produced three: Kim Fields (“Dicks,” 2017) and Laurence Fishburne (“#FreeRayshawn,” 2020) in short form actor, and Jones’ daughter Jasmine Cephas Jones (“#FreeRayshawn,” 2020) in short form actress as they became the first father-daughter duo to win win acting Emmys in the same year.