Why Has Kerry Washington Never Won an Emmy?

Rebecca Brubaker ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Web Writer
Let me be honest with those who are reading this: I am a very big fan of Scandal’s leading lady. Anyone who knows me knows that Kerry Washington is my role model. Anyone who really knows me will complain that I talk about her too much. At the end of the day, no one is really surprised that this article is being written.
But to be frank here: this isn’t being written because I’m sad my favorite actress did not win an award tonight. A woman who has changed the television game has been overlooked by Television Academy for four times now.
With Scandal’s ratings being far lower than in past seasons, it was not surprising that Kerry was not nominated for playing Olivia Pope this year. While she was nominated for that role in 2013 and 2014, she lost to respectively talented actresses Claire Danes and Julianna Margulies.
However, the academy’s decision to choose these actresses shows their failure to recognize Olivia Pope’s importance in television history. Kerry Washington was the first African-American female lead in a network drama since 1974. The show premiered in 2012. That’s a thirty-eight year gap. There has been an 11% increase in Broadcast POC representation since Scandal debuted in 2012 (22% to 33%). While Kerry Washington is not the only woman who opened the doors for other people of color, Olivia Pope’s importance is still far too often overlooked by institutions like the Television Academy.

Photo Credit: Frank Masi/HBO
Photo Credit: Frank Masi/HBO
This year, Kerry was nominated for not only playing Anita Hill in the HBO series The Confirmation, but for producing it as well. Kerry’s recently launched production company, Simpson Street, was also the production company behind the film. The television movie follows the Senate Judiciary Hearings following Anita Hill’s claim that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her. The movie saw great success; discussions were jumpstarted years after the trials. Kerry attended SXSW to talk about the themes surrounding the woman and even toured with Anita Hill herself to colleges and panels.
And yet, despite the importance of this film in popular culture and history itself, it got overlooked once again at the Emmy’s. Sherlock won. Sherlock.
Over the retelling of one of the most important trials in American history.
This is the issue with Kerry Washington being skipped over four times. This is a woman who is never afraid to play the hard parts, the controversial parts, and the most important parts. She has dedicated her life to battling for television representation for not only people of color, but LGBTQIA+ people and other underrepresented groups. Kerry never lets the spotlight fall on her and her alone; she shines it on groups of people and organizations that need someone to hear them. She is constantly praised in pop culture circles yet has few physical rewards to show for it.
For now, I’m going to stay mad and wait for the day when she finally wins an Emmy or an Oscar or becomes President of the United States. Skipping over artists like Kerry Washington are too common amongst most award shows. The Television Academy has done a great injustice and I hopefully they’ll come to realize this.

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  1. I agree with you. But, even though she has not been recognized with an Emmy, she has been recognized in other ways. I have lost count of how many magazine covers she has been on. Just this month she is on The Hollywood Reporter. She has numerous NAACP awards including the Presidents Award. She is spokesperson for three companies, two of which she is creative consultant. Last but not least, her two year creative contract with ABC for her production company Simpson Street

  2. Sorry, but Kerry will never win an Emmy for Scandal,come on!. the show has become a trash .I thought for Confirmation.she deserve one . Yes.and by the way. be your own model. Kerry is a wonderful woman, I am happy for her she has succes now.

  3. Kerry Washington has a few things going against her, and the number one problem starts with Kerry. She is not a good actress. She is decent and limited by the material, which is the second problem. A third problem, the visiting and supporting actors are better performers. Fourth, Kerry is well paid to serve the industry, but anything other than a culturally appropriated award is far beyond her reach.

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