The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards are happening soon, and this year’s slate of nominations puts a handful of actors, writers, directors and shows in position to make history. Here’s who has a chance to go down in the television history books if they win Emmy gold (not including John Legend, who already earned his EGOT at the Creative Emmys on Sunday).
The awards show will be hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Michael Che and Colin Jost and will air at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17 on NBC.
Killing Eve star Sandra Oh made history with her Emmy nomination in July, becoming the first Asian actor to be nominated for best actress in a drama. If she wins, she will be the first Asian actor to win the best actress in a drama award.
Oh spoke to Elle in May about the “heartbreak” of having to wait so long for a good role in an industry with few open doors for Asian actors. “This is a heartbreak that I feel for my community of Asian-Americans and people who are just not represented, who are not reflected — not a personal heartbreak that I speak about,” she said. “This is much more universal.”
Issa Rae and Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross and Issa Rae are both nominated for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series: Ross for her role on ABC’s Black-ish and Rae for her role as Issa on her HBO show, Insecure. If either wins, she would be the first black woman to win in the category since the 1981 Emmys, when Isabel Sanford won for her role on The Jeffersons; Sanford is the only black woman to have won the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series.
In January 2017, Ross became the first black woman in 33 years to win a Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy. “This is for all the women, women of color and colorful people whose stories, ideas, thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important,” Ross said in her acceptance speech. “But I want you to know that I see you. We see you.”
Allison Janney would make history two times over if she wins an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series — it would be her eighth, tying with Cloris Leachman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for most primetime Emmy wins by a single performer. Janney is nominated for her role as Bonnie Plunkett in the CBS comedy Mom.
And Janney already won an Oscar this year for her role in I, Tonya, so an Emmy win would make her only the third woman in Hollywood history to win both awards in the same year. (Helen Hunt and Helen Mirren are the other two.)
Director Hiro Murai is nominated for an Emmy for best directing in a comedy series for the Atlanta episode “Teddy Perkins.” And if he wins, Murai, who also directed Donald Glover’s “This Is America” music video, would be one of the only Asian directors to win an Emmy in a directing category. (Cary Fukunaga won an Emmy in 2014 for directing for a drama series for his work on True Detective.)
Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones is nominated for an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series, up against fellow cast members Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant. If she wins, Jones would be both the first black woman to win in the category since Jackée Harry in 1987 and the first woman of color from an SNL cast to win an Emmy.