Whitewashing, ageism and sexism: three terms Hollywood is renowned for. Don’t believe me? Emmys host Andy Samberg even noted in his opening monologue that the gender gap is still alive and well in the hub of entertainment. So, obviously we expected this to be reflected at last night’s Emmy Awards ceremony.
But *shock, horror* it …. didn’t?
Yes, you heard correctly, it was not whitewashed with young attractive celebrities. Instead, it was a diverse affair.
According to The Huffington Post, 15 of the 18 nominees for Leading Actress in the comedy, drama, and mini-series categories were women over 35. This indicates the increasing amount of complex female television roles currently on offer. From Orange is the New Black to Orphan Black to anything touched by Shonda Rhimes, television has begun to spur on some real discussions about feminism. So, it’s really no surprise that the 2015 Emmy Awards honoured women in a dignified manner.
It all started with the red carpet where the #AskHerMore campaign was in full force. Amy Poehler’s online community, Smart Girls, encouraged Twitter users to ask their favourite celebrities questions that were not solely attire-related. By using the hashtag #SmartGirlsAsk, users asked the guests about their inspirations, achievements and hobbies which were recorded and posted online for the world to see. This proved that women are not merely dolls wearing formal gowns, but intelligent people who deserve to be recognised for their brains, not just their appearance.
The first award for the night went to Allison Janney who made history by winning her seventh Emmy, tying her with Ed Asner for the most performance Emmy wins, ever. And later, Amy Schumer – the woman who made fun of Hollywood’s age double standard – won for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.
But, it doesn’t end there! Not one, but two women won for Directing. Jill Soloway won for Transparent, while Lisa Cholodenko won for Olive Kitteridge, two shows that have made huge strides for the way women are portrayed on screen and the female-centric stories that are told. Meanwhile, Uzo Aduba took home her second Emmy for her role in Orange is the New Black. However, the biggest winner of the night was Viola Davis, who won the Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama series (How To Get Away With Murder) – the first black woman ever to do so in that category. In an emotional speech, Viola discussed the hardships she’s faced as a woman of colour trying to make it in Hollywood, staying that “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
All in all, it was an incredibly inclusive night for women at the Emmys; the actresses and crew members honoured represented women of all ages, races, and walks of life. These females write and play bold, complicated characters with realistic flaws and messy backgrounds. It most definitely wasn’t your average award show, particularly given the fact that the Best Actor award has continually outshone its female counterpart in past years. Future ceremonies could learn a lot from last night’s Emmys – and the current television landscape, in general – when it comes to female representation.
This year’s Emmy Awards were a fantastic reminder that change is happening, and when it comes to the representation of women, Hollywood is slowly but surely moving in the right direction.