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Black Women Emmy Contenders for Comedy: Issa Rae, Tiffany Haddish

The hilarity of Black women on television has been sorely missed and ignored by the Television Academy over multiple decades. However, with this year’s slate of outstanding comedy series as robust as ever, it’s presented an incredible amount of worthy Black women to land Emmy recognition in the lead and supporting comedy categories. With freshman outings such as “Abbott Elementary” (ABC), “The Afterparty” (Apple TV+) and “Harlem” (Amazon Prime Video) and the farewell seasons of “Black-ish” (ABC) and “Insecure” (HBO), there’s plenty of chances in categories that have sorely lacked Black winners.

In lead actress comedy, only six Black women have been nominated since its inception in 1966 — Diahann Carroll (“Julia”), Isabel Sanford (“The Jeffersons”), Nell Carter (“Gimme a Break!”), Phylicia Rashad (“The Cosby Show”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) and Issa Rae (“Insecure”). Sanford was the only Black woman to win the category in 1981.

Read moreVariety’s Awards Circuit Emmys Predictions Hub

In supporting actress comedy, we’ve seen a minor increase in the representation of Black talent but still not enough compared to the presence in the industry. Ten individual women have been recognized in this category — Marla Gibbs (“The Jeffersons”), Paula Kelly (“Night Court”), Lisa Bonet and Keisha Knight Pulliam (“The Cosby Show”), Jackee Harry (“227”), Alfre Woodard (“Desperate Housewives”), Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty”), Niecy Nash (“Getting On”), Leslie Jones (“Saturday Night Live”), Zazie Beetz (“Atlanta”) and Yvonne Orji (“Insecure”). Harry is the only one ever to win.


In 2020, we saw history made with the first two Black women, Ellis and Rae, nominated for outstanding comedy series and lead actresses in a comedy.

With the submission deadline for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards looming on May 12 and ahead of nomination voting opening on June 16, Variety is listing the Black women that demand the TV Academy’s consideration down below.

To see where the list of women stands among this year’s Emmy contenders, go to Variety‘s Awards Circuit prediction pages to see the current rankings. The nomination round of voting runs from June 16-27. The official nominations for the 74th Emmy Awards will be announced Tuesday, July 12.

Honorable mentions: Nicole Byer (“Grand Crew”), Regina Hall (“Black Monday”), Ziwe (“Ziwe”)

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