Emmys: Will 2015 Be the Year of the Black Female TV Actress?

Emmys Honors: Taraji P. Henson Hopes 2015 is the Year of the Black Female Actress

(Image: American Black Film Festival)
(Image: American Black Film Festival)

The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards airs live from Los Angeles this month, and many will watch as two major black actresses starring in top-rated dramas go toe-to-toe in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category. Taraji P. Henson, and Viola Davis of How to Get Away with Murder, are both nominated in the category, and one could make history as the first African American female to get the honor in that category.

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In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Henson, the Empire leading lady who plays Cookie Lyon, said she’s “amazed” she is to be nominated for this year’s ceremony, but that “it’s sort of bittersweet.”

Why? “Because here we are in 2015 and we’re still saying things like, ‘First African-American,’ ‘First woman this,’” she said. “I just pray to God … and it’s not even about me. I hope Viola wins. I hope I win,” Henson continued. “Just so we can get past this and we don’t have to say in 2020 or 2030 or 3000, ‘The first’ — I mean, come on, really,” she said, laughing.

Though no black actresses have won in the Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series category, The Jeffersons actress, Isabel Sanford, won the comedy equivalent in 1981.

Empire is set to return to TV on Sept. 23, three days after Fox airs the Emmys.