Kerry Washington To Test Primetime Emmy History With 'Scandal' (A Drought For Black Actresses)

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
May 31, 2012 12:18 PM
25 Comments
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It's Thursday, and you know what that would've meant if Scandal season 1 wasn't yet over. I'm sure some of you will soon start showing symptons of Scandal withdrawal. My cure? I say give Damages a try if you haven't watched any of that FX series yet. It's one hell of a show, and worthy of all the accolades; and dare I say, it's what Scandal COULD be, if the envelope was pushed a bit more, and the show took more risks.

Maybe they will in season 2.

Damages, which is going into its 5th and final season, stars Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. It's dark, gritty drama. I'm catching up with it (just finished season 1).

So anyway... there I was on Deadline's website last night, and saw what you see in the image above. Specifically, the "For Your Consideration" ads for Scandal, plastered all over the main page. 

And then I realized, oh yeah, the Emmys! Specifically, the Primetime Emmy Awards; it's that time of the year again, when the process begins - nominating ballots will be posted on the Primetime Emmy Awards website in less than 2 weeks, and about a month after that, July 19th, the nominations in all categories for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced live; and 2 months later, September 23, ABC will telecast the live awards ceremony at the Governors Ball.

So, obviously, and certainly as you'd expect, ABC has begun pushing Scandal as a contender, in all categories. Good!

And based on the available categories, I'd assume that Scandal's potentials include: Outstanding Drama SeriesDirecting for a Drama SeriesWriting for a Drama SeriesLead Actor in a Drama Series, Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesGuest Actor in a Drama Series, Guest Actress in a Drama Series, as well as categories under the Creative Arts Primetime Emmys section.

It's a tad early to even start thinking of what its chances are; but I'll say this and then let you guys talk amongst yourselves:

First, Mad Men has dominated in the Outstanding Drama Series category, winning in that category every year since 2008

Next, the last time a broadcast network (not a cable TV network) won in the Outstanding Drama Series category, was Fox's 24 in 2006. HBO and AMC have dominated that category over the last 6 years.

Anf finally, and maybe most significantly, I'm sure all eyes will be on the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category for Kerry Washington. And why not? A black actress has NEVER EVER won the Primetime Emmy Award for Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Never, in the award's 60+ years! Sure, there've been a few nominees... well 4 of them in total: Debbie Allen was nominated 4 times for Fame in the 1980s; Alfre Woodard, once for St Elsewhere; Regina Taylor, twice for I'll Fly Away; and Cicely Tyson, once for Sweet Justice in 1995 (wow, how many of you remember that show? Tyson played a Wall Street Lawyer who returned to her Southern hometown to work at a progressive law firm; It ran for 1 single season; I'll have to go look for it on Netflix).

Granted, it's not often that there are primetime hour-long drama series with black women at the lead. So this shouldn't be a big surprise. 

As an aside, I should mention that BET is jumping into that space with its own hour-long drama series, with a black woman at the center - Being Mary Jane with Gabrielle Union starring. It debuts next season; not that I'm stating that it'll be a contender at next year's Primetime Emmys, but I'm sure BET would love to get some looks its way for a change.

But back to Kerry... so the last time a black actress received any recognition for her work in a leading role in a primetime drama series was 17 long years ago. Talk about a drought.

In addition to the fact that history isn't quite on her side, Ms Washington will have some tough competition in that category (assuming she even gets nominated) from recent past winners like Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife (she won in this category last year), and Glenn Close in the aforementioned Damages (she won this award twice, back-to-back, in 2008 & 2009). Both shows are still on the air, although maybe without the same fire they once had - more-so Damages than The Good Wife.

Of course, there'll be other competition in this category as well - likely one of the actresses from Mad Men, as well as former winner, Mariska Hargitay from Law & Order: SVU.

I'll also add that first-timers aren't favored. More often than not, the winner in this category has gone to an actress in a show that's past its first season in the year that its nominated for. This was Scandal's first season, as well as Kerry Washington's first try.

We'll find out in about a month and a half when the nominees are announced!

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25 Comments

  • Curtis Caesar John | June 2, 2012 12:39 PMReply

    Funny how Regina Kings is always on the short list by general TV fans and critics alike, as well as many on here, to be nominated for Southland - a nom that she richly deserves - yet it has never happened and probably won't this year either. Heck, a few years ago they even nominated the wooden January Jones from 'Mad Men' instead of King or even Katey Sagal from 'Sons of Anarchy' (who has also made the critic short list for multiple years). That said, it probably won't happen this year but there's good money that it will for Kerry, especially with all the campaigning (pun not intended) involved. Watch.

  • Get With It | June 25, 2012 2:15 PM

    I love Regina King, but gave up on the show since they pretended to cast her as lead and made her a side bar to the show...the award show go to a lead actress.

    Treme sucks and degrages minorties, the best award for it is to be taken off the TV. However, America love shows (Good Times, Cops, Jerry Springer, etc.) that degrades minorties so it will probably be own for ever.

    Good luck Scandal! Good luck Kerry!!

  • starry118 | June 2, 2012 12:57 AMReply

    I've seen every episode of Scandal at least twice, and enjoy Kerry Washington in this role. I think episode 6 featured the quality I'd been expecting from the beginning, and the show should be nominated based on the writing and direction in that episode. I agree with other commenters that Jeff Perry and Guillermo Diaz deserve nominations as well.

  • bondgirl | June 1, 2012 6:20 PMReply

    Emmy's are hard to predict, and someone gets snubbed every year. That said, there is ALWAYS the possibility of Kerry getting nominated. LOL@ the folks who think a new show is an award season obstacle in Hollywood. Grey's Anatomy only had 9 episodes its first season, and still Sandra Oh got nom'd. Oh, and the medical drama, "soap opera show" with the 9 eps debuted in late March (see: APRIL, like Scandal), yet still got 3 Emmy noms...ABC knows what they're doing. It's no coincidence that she was a presenter last year. Since the voting rules consist of watching the DVD's at home, it could depend more on who is popular among voters. That can help Kerry, who is very well liked among her peers. And I'm not talking about The Wayans Bros, I mean Jews. Or to put it frankly as Seth McFarlane did recently- "bloated, overprivileged, Brentwood Jews". I would love to see Jeff Perry get one as well. I enjoy his scenes with Tony Goldwyn so much, they deserve to be printed on a t-shirt. While the negresses are doubtful, tvline also contends that KWat the very least, has an equal shot. http://tvline.com/2012/06/01/emmy-awards-2012-drama-actress-nominations-contenders-dream-photos/#333068-22-gal_emmys_washington

  • RG Kerry Fan | June 1, 2012 11:26 AMReply

    There is always a first and I hope this is it for Kerry Washington and Scandal! If you can grab an audience and a second season with only 7 episodes, then you've got a hit on your hands! Looking forward to season two. Good luck to Kerry and Scandal for the Emmy nomination. Would love to see her win!

  • Orville | June 1, 2012 1:42 AMReply

    I don't think Kerry deserves a nomination right now to be honest it is too soon. I am not not quite sure why Tambay is making a big deal about black actress not getting nominated for an Emmy? Black women rarely get quality roles in Hollywood anyway. Right now, I don't think Scandal is that great. I think Scandal is definitely a step in the right direction in illustrating a more positive image of the black woman. However, Scandal only had seven episodes too short and too soon. Again, why are some black Americans so desperate for white validation?

    Maybe an American can answer this question is the Emmy awards a big deal in the United States?

    If Scandal had lasted past the second season it would resonate more. Scandal only had seven episodes and to be honest I don't think Kerry was given enough time to really give the character Olivia Pope any real depth. It is strange ABC is pushing this given the fact Scandal had such a short season.

  • AccidentalVisitor | May 31, 2012 10:57 PMReply

    ABC is really pushing the show for Emmys? Surprising. First of all it is a broadcast network show with only SEVEN eps to its credit. Broadcast networks are already ticked off that cable shows can get noms for producing 6 to 10 eps a season while they must produce 20 or more. But I think it would be going too far in their minds for a fellow broadcast network series to accumulate a lot of noms with only seven produced episodes of its own. Not to mention a show that made its debut so late. Not post-Super Bowl game debut late (January/February), but REAL late: April. Then there's the fact that the show got lukewarm reviews initially (apparently it may have gotten stronger as it went along) and only so-so ratings. It is rare for a network show under these circumstances (limited episodes, late debut, weak reviews and only okay.solid ratings) to get much love from the Academy voters. Oh, did I fail to mention that many out there were less impressed with the lead actress than they were with other cast members of the show? Good luck with that. Maybe ABC wants to show its love towards Shonda. Of course Kerry Washington could be a darkhorse for a nomination simply because she has made a career being a film actress. The Emmys love to prove TV's inferiority complex by slurping all those movie folks who go "slumming" on TV. However I doubt the show itself gets a nomination for an Emmy. It would almost be like nominating a trashy, fun and popular beach-reading book for a prestigious American book award. As for the lack of one black winner for Best Actress in a Drama in Emmy history, is that a surprise? The issue isn't the lack of winners, the issue is lack of opportunities. Rarely have black women (or men) been the leads of mainstream TV dramas that last long enough even to be considered during Emmy season. Someone below mentiond Khandi Alexander. Now that's a person who should have been nominated for two years in a row but is getting ignored. She is brilliant and arguably gave the best performance on TV during her first season on Treme. I wish she and her show would get 1/4 the attention that even Scandal manages to get from the media. Hell, I wish she and Treme would get 1/4 the attention on THIS site that Scandal does.

  • CareyCarey | May 31, 2012 10:06 PMReply

    Kerry Washington winning an Emmy for her role in Scandal!? Wishful thinking to the 10th degree. Her chances of winning are as remote as Gabourey Sidibe winning the next Miss America Pageant and Reverend Al Sharpton winning the Republican Presidential nomination. However, hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles. So come on, join me in a song of hope. I know some of you know the words, so sing along. "I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times dar am not forgotten, look away! look away! look away! Dixie Land. In Dixie Land whar’ we was born in, early on one frosty mornin, Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
    CHORUS: "Sing Y'all"! Den I wish I was in Dixie (Kerry Washington too), Hoo-ray! Hoo-ray!
    In Dixie land, I'll take my stand (with Mr. Charlie and Scandal) to live and die in Dixie; Away, away, away down south in Dixie. Old Missus (Olivia Pope) creep with Will-de-weaber (President Fitzgerald Grant), Willium was a gay deceaber; Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land. But when he put his arm around 'er, black folks yelled "Emmy for her"... and she
    smiled as fierce as a forty-pounder. Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.
    CHORUS: It ain't about race, that's an old time place. Look away, look away, look away Dixie land. I wish I was in the land of cotton, where white folks lead and we be trotten... Look Away, Look Away, Look away proud black man. Shonda Rhimes ain't commit no crime... look away, look away, look away, proud black man. You's forgot we's got our foots in dey door, so race don't have no place in dis here store-ree. I wish I was in the land of cotton so all can be forgotten. KERRY WASHINGTON FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A TV DRAMA. Keep hope alive!

  • CareyCarey | June 1, 2012 12:07 AM

    JMac-you're-gonna-get-barred-from-S&A. You and Michelle Rodriguez :-O

  • JMac | May 31, 2012 11:19 PM

    She might get it for being (somewhat) trashy and black, lol. Not holding my breath though.

  • Kid chaos | May 31, 2012 8:55 PMReply

    The mother from goodtimes is a way better role model then Kerry i wish i was white washington.

  • Jai | May 31, 2012 2:48 PMReply

    Damages is no longer on FX. Scandal can never push the envelope like Damages because Scandal is on network tv and Damages is on cable(direct TV now).

    Even if Kerry is nominated which I hope she is, I don't think she'd win.

    I would love to see Regina King win for Southland, she's so underrated!!!!!

  • JMac | May 31, 2012 9:07 PM

    To be extra honest, Glenn Close would still get nominated and probably win even if she was on Sesame Street reciting the alphabet. She's just a damn good actress. So far there's not a good track record for any actor or actress to win if they are on a Rhimes soap opera. I forgot Loretta Devine won but as a guest actress. Who knows? Kerry might be the first... in a few more years. I thought Lorraine Toussaint was robbed for not even being nominated for Any Day Now. The first couple of seasons were good.

  • misha | May 31, 2012 3:22 PM

    "Scandal can never push the envelope like Damages because Scandal is on network tv">>> Nah, the problem is that Shonda seemingly thinks that over-the-top melodrama is exciting and daring. She has a very soap opera-esque style of writing, which is ironic since she likes to say that her shows aren't soap operas.

  • Curtis | May 31, 2012 3:10 PM

    I actually disagree with that. FX is on cable but it's not HBO or Showtime where almost anything goes. Plus you look at shows like the CSI series which get pretty graphic and disturbing and dark at times, and L&O:SVU also goes there often. And both are on network tv. So Scandal has room to push. I'm not saying it has to get all violent like CSI or SVU, but Damages has a darkness and grime to it in the characters and stories, and it's just ballsy. I'd like to see Olivia Pope be almost as dangerous as Glenn Close's character is in Damages. Tougher, ambiguous, you just don't really know what she's going to do next, like a timebomb. As for Regina in Southland, while I really love that series and Regina in it, does her role qualify as the lead of the show? I mean, it's an ensemble cast. She's not the star like Kerry is in Scandal.

  • ScandalMoments | May 31, 2012 2:13 PMReply

    Tambay first off thank you for giving the Scandal fandom a thoughtful feature!

    I pray that Kerry Washington makes history with scoring a Emmy win for her role as Olivia Pope on Scandal.

    Granted that I felt that Tracee Ellis Ross from Girlfriends, Nicole Ari Parker from Soul Food, Jill Scott from No. 1 Detectives Ladies Agency & Vanessa Williams from Ugly Betty were cheated for all those years portraying strong black women but Kerry securing this historical win will finally say to Hollywood that black women are truly commander in chiefs of their environment! We love hard just as much as we work hard!

    If I could I'll give Phylicia Rashād a honorable Emmy for portraying a black woman in a positive light on network TV!

    If Hollywood can look outside her 'interracial love affair with white Republican POTUS Fitz Grant', this will open up to more Scandal TV spin-offs. This is something I hope TV will do! I do wish there was a Girlfriends spin-off - done correctly!

    Bloggers are already comparing Olivia Pope to 1992's Boomerang Jacqueline played by Robin Givens!

    But I digress!

    What I love about the show (Scandal) is that race is a non-factor. It's not used as a cliche stereotypical humor clutch. Olivia Pope heads her own high-ranking crisis management firm that the POTUS calls on to fix his messes. If that doesn't scream that Olivia's the HBIC in D.C. I don't know what to say!

    What I find odd is Hollywood is JUST now recognizing how amazing this show is! Where was the love when it was on air???

    Olivia runs her show plus she's educated! Plus she was the only one bold enough to step up to a presidential hopeful like a true pro!

    But I digress!

    If I can hand out nominations or Emmys it will be Cyrus for that long dialogue scene with Fitz and Huck for that torture scene. Bellamy Young has to get a supporting nomination for her role as FLOTUS!

    The entire cast is flawless from a honest Darby to Katie (#WhoisQuinn) to a charming Columbus to a dapper Henry!

    What I think will happen is that Kerry will get nominated period! No question ask!
    Will this win define her? No it'll just get folks talking but Kerry is her own businesswoman. She not only acts but directs and is a passionate political activist!

    Tracee is doing big things by producing her BET show Reed Between The Lines. Shonda Rhimes has two #1 series on network TV.

    What I hope Kerry will do in season 2 is to direct episodes. She tapped into that skill when she directed a sleek music video for Common.

    Standing O to black actresses who are taking the initiative!

  • Cordell | May 31, 2012 1:59 PMReply

    I love Kerry Washington but I'm hoping that the Emmy voters give Regina King "Southland" and Khandi Alexander "Treme" some love this year.

  • Shanea | May 31, 2012 2:40 PM

    @Cordell... yes, they both definitely deserve it.

  • Shanea | May 31, 2012 1:57 PMReply

    17 years is a long drought and it's sadly not very shocking. And correct me if I'm wrong, Jackee Harry still remains the only black actress to win an Emmy for a comedy series back in 1987 for "227". But yes it would be great to see a black actress win for a lead role in a primetime drama series. Just not sure Scandal's 7 episodes will make Kerry a contender this year.

  • Shanea | May 31, 2012 8:40 PM

    @Ivory Jeff Clinton... thanks for the insight.

  • Ivory Jeff Clinton | May 31, 2012 7:49 PM

    Jackée Harry's the only black woman to win in the supporting category for comedy. Isabel Sanford is the only one to win lead. She won once, for "The Jeffersons" in 1981.

  • misha | May 31, 2012 1:29 PMReply

    But speaking of black actresses and the Emmys, I always thought it was telling that Sarah Jessica Parker could get so many nominations and win for her role on Sex and the City but nada for Girlfriends' Tracee Ellis Ross, who (I think) delivered a superior performance as the quirky, neurotic, hilarious Joan Clayton. Sure her show was on the "lowly" UPN/CW network but she gave a great performance, nonetheless.

  • misha | May 31, 2012 1:07 PMReply

    Well Tambay, Kerry also has a few other things working against her. One, Scandal isn't a critically-acclaimed series. Most of the reviews I've read have panned the show, with one critic dubbing it "The West Wing for dummies." Ouch! And two, Kerry simply failed to give a strong/standout performance, IMO. Yes, yes...I know some folk will mentioned Julianna Margulies winning despite not being the greatest actress. But at the very least, I think she delivers a convincing performance on a show that critics love. Not so for Kerry, who many (myself included) have said lacks the gravitas for the role of Olivia Pope. So if anyone is nominated from Scandal, it'll likely be Jeff Perry, who's gotten a fair amount of praise for his portrayal of Cyrus Beene. I'd also say that Tony Goldwyn deserves a nomination but I don't see him getting one.

  • tina | May 31, 2012 1:00 PMReply

    As much as I would love to see Scandal take home all of the awards I don't think a 7 episode pilot season will be considered much of a contender compared to all of thes long running shows. Maybe next year if the show continues to kill like it did in this mini season than season 2 O pope can take home a best actress Emmy and fill end the drought.

  • Akimbo | May 31, 2012 12:55 PMReply

    The show is good for what it is, but there's no reason to nominate Kerry at this point. She's doing her job an actor, but nothing particularly challenging or spectacular going on.

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