Given the success of freshman series How to Get Away with Murder and Empire – not to mention the rave reviews for each show’s leading lady – Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson were considered locks for Emmy nominations in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category. In fact, had either actress been overlooked, social media users and critics alike would have cried foul.
Now that this year’s Emmy nominations have been announced, Viola and Taraji have officially made history as the first two black women to score an Emmy nomination in the same year in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category. You read correctly: Before today, two black women had never been nominated in this category in the same year.
A lack of diversity in roles had prevented black women from receiving notable recognition in television for years. Before Kerry Washington’s 2013 nomination, the last black woman to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series was Cicely Tyson in 1995.
Furthermore, a black woman has never won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, although many predicted – or at least hoped – that Kerry would take home the honor in 2013 or 2014 for her turn as Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal.
Now many believe that Viola or Taraji may win come this September.
Congratulations, Viola and Taraji.
The nominees for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series at this year’s Emmy Awards are as follows:
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Claire Danes, Homeland
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards airs on September 20.