Black like me, beautiful like me

2022 Emmy awards become an important chapter in black history

The 2022 Emmy’s was a magical experience for all those who had the pleasure of viewing it. Even after the event, social media was buzzing with the news of multiple African-American Emmy winners. What made this event so special for the black community was its historical significance. Each of the winners played a role in the movement of diversity regarding people of color in the media. . 

While it is true that the amount of African-American people in entertainment media has improved since the time of its creation, they are often scrutinized and judged so much that any mistake they make can determine their entire career. For instance, the public favored Will Smith for over 30 years, since his most notable work “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” however, he immediately lost most of this favor after the Oscars fiasco.

For black women in the media, this issue has been prevalent throughout the characters they portray or are written as. Often in the media, black women are portrayed as the “loud, obnoxious, masculine, angry woman,” now with shows such as “Euphoria” and “Black-ish,” we are able to see African-American women portrayed in different lights and as humans who struggle through a variety of issues. 

As recorded on, the Emmy Awards recognize excellence within various areas of television and emerging media. They are administered by Television Academy (primetime), National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (daytime, sports, news and documentary), and International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (international). The Primetime Emmy Award is a symbol of peer recognition from nearly 20,000 Television Academy members. Each member casts a ballot for the category of competition of their field of expertise. 

Sheryl Lee Ralph, Quinta Brunson, Lizzo, and Zendaya made the 2022 Emmys a historic moment for black women in TV. This win is not only a win for African-Americans in entertainment, but a point of progress in the field itself. 

“With the success of these shows, it opens the reality to networks that black women and blackness is marketable,” assistant professor of media studies at the University of Texas at Austin Adrian Sebro stated. “This will lead the way to more black writers, more black actresses on writers, sitcoms, reality series and competition series, as well. This leads to more spaces of black creativity positively.”

According to, only seven awards out of the 25 televised categories were awarded to people of color or programs led by people of color. However, out of the women that did win, they made history by doing so. As recorded on, only 36 black women have won prime-time Emmy awards. 

Sheryl Lee Ralph is an actress and singer who made her on-screen debut in the 1977 comedy film, “A Piece of the Action.” She then landed her breakthrough role as Deena Jones in the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls,” for which she received a Tony Award nomination. This 65 year-old from Waterbury, Connecticut is considered a Hollywood legend, she took her first Emmy at the 74th award show on Sept. 12. Ralph won for her depiction of Barbara Howard in Brunson’s hit sitcom “Abbott Elementary.” Etching her in history as the second black woman after Jackée Harry, who won for “227” in 1987, to win the outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series. 

“To anyone who has ever ever had a dream and thought your dream wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t come true, I am here to tell you that this is what believing looks like,” Ralph said during her speech. “This is what striving looks like, and don’t you ever, ever give up on you.” 

Quinta Brunson is a writer, producer, actress, and comedian who gained traction for her self-produced Instagram series “Girl Who Has Never Been on a Nice Date.” She went on to produce and act in content for BuzzFeed Video, and developed two streaming series with BuzzFeed Motion Pictures. The 32-year-old from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania also stars in “Abbott Elementary” as teacher Janine Teagues. Brunson is the first black woman to earn three nominations in the comedy categories in the same year; winning the award for outstanding writing for a comedy series, “Abbott Elementary.” During her speech, Jimmy Kimmel lay at her feet as a part of his comedy bit. Which he has since apologized for after receiving backlash from the public claiming he took away from her moment. However, Brunson later stated she was more elated about her win to notice an issue even joking about him during her speech.

“I was expecting maybe the show finishes its first season and then people will realize we have this great show, because that’s how it goes with sitcoms a lot… To have only had a few episodes and just for it to be an abundance of support, love, conversation, and just enjoyment of the show is just so, like, I don’t know. I am just so happy, so overwhelmed,” Brunson shared.

Melissa Viviane Jefferson, professionally known as Lizzo, is a singer, rapper, and songwriter. She got her big break from singer Prince, who ‘co-signed’ her music and gave her the opportunity to perform on his song “Boy Trouble.” In 2017, Lizzo released one her biggest tracks to date, “Truth Hurts,” the first single from her 2019 album “Cuz I Love You.” Hailing from Detroit, Michigan this 34-year-old Grammy Award winner is considered one of the leading stars paving the way for body positivity. Lizzo went home with the outstanding competition program for, “Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls.”

“When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media,” Lizzo stated during her speech. “Someone fat like me. Black like me. Beautiful like me. And if I could go back and tell little Lizzo something, I would be like ‘you gonna see that person, but…it’s gonna have to be you.’”

Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman (Zendaya) is an actress and singer. Named one of the most 100 influential people by Time Magazine, made her TV debut on the Disney channel series “Shake It Up,” acting as the character Rocky Blue. Following her various roles in Disney, she joined the Marvel franchise as M.J in the Spiderman series. However, her performance as Rue Bennett from the hit HBO series “Euphoria,” is what made her the first black woman to receive the same award twice. At 26 years-old, she is the youngest two-time Emmy award winner for outstanding lead actress in a drama series. 

“My greatest wish for ‘Euphoria’ was that it could help heal people and I just want to say thank you to everyone who has shared their story with me,” Zendaya stated. “I want you to know that anyone who has loved a Rue or feels like they are Rue, I want you to know that I’m so grateful for your stories and I carry them with me and I carry them with her.”

While the number of African-American female TV showrunners has risen in recent years, according to the Women’s Media Center, colorism is still a persistent problem. Dark-skinned black women are rarely cast in leading or major roles. Sebro said we should celebrate the progress, but acknowledge there is still a long way to go working towards diversity and inclusion on the small screen and recognition at award shows.

For all those who have not tuned in to the shows these outstanding women have performed in, many of the titles can be observed through Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime.