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A Euphoric win for Zendaya at the 2020 Emmys
by Antonina Dolecka, 2/10/20

The Emmys 2020. This year, when everything seems to be changing in the blink of an eye, the world of show business doesn’t entirely follow the pattern. On Sunday 20th September, the Emmys Ceremony took place, remotely as predicted. Among the highlights of the night was Zendaya’s award for a leading actress in a drama series for her portrayal of Rue in HBO’s Euphoria. Unexpected though it was to the actress herself, she still made history by becoming the youngest women to win in this category at the age of 24. 

Surrounded at home by her supporting friends, the actress thanked the other nominees, such as Olivia Colman, Jodie Comer and three-time consecutive nominee Sandra Oh, exclaiming, “I admire you so much”. Despite recognising it seeming strange to have reason for celebration, she announced her belief that there is still hope. This was specifically emphasised for the younger generation. Thanking those that protested earlier in the year, Zendaya stated, “And I just want to say to all my peers out there doing the work in the streets, I see you, I admire you”. The emotional speech conveyed a message that went viral in a matter of seconds.

The younger generation has been seen to achieve serious feats in the world. There is no doubt how well this message fits into the reality of 2020. The Black Lives Matter movement sparked an abundance of activism from teenagers and young adults. However, despite the overwhelming prominence of protest footage on online platforms, the problems still remain. The Emmys bear a sign of this sad reality, as Zendaya is just the second black woman to win the award in the leading actress category, after Viola Davis. This historic win clearly shows that high-end showbusiness events are still strongly polarised. Ceremonies like the Oscars or the Emmys are constantly trying to be more inclusive, or at least appear as much. Unfortunately, there lies a long road ahead before equality is truly achieved. 

Nonetheless, the Emmys did introduce a number of new implementations to the nomination process this year, aiming for more diversity among contenders. More importantly, the 2020 Ceremony is said to set a record number of nominations for black actors and performers. In fact, more than thirty people of colour were nominated in relation to acting, while six were nominated for hosting.

Another important part of the Emmys’ inclusiveness was the representation of the LGBTQ+ community. Twelve actors who identify as belonging to the community were nominated and a further seven in relation to hosting. Still, nominations remain just one side of the coin. The actual awards went to eleven people of colour, some of whom received multiple awards, such as Maya Rudolph and RuPaul, who became the most awarded host in the history of Emmys. 

This is a definite improvement compared to last year’s awards. It shows that award ceremonies are incorporating steps towards diversity and inclusivity alongside an evolving society. While steps are being made, Hollywood still has a long way ahead. The Oscars, proudly keeping its position as the most prestigious movie industry ceremony, remains a rather exclusive environment. While diversity is appearing slowly on the big screen, behind-the-camera nominations still lack sufficient inclusivity. 

Nonetheless, as witnessed in Zendaya’s acceptance speech, there is hope and this hope lies with the young generation.

Image credit: tanijohn09 via Flickr