Emmys Countdown: first time LGBTQ nominees from the other side of the camera

 

With the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards taking place next Sunday, September 18, 2016, broadcast live on ABC at 7pm ET/4pm PT, a lot of attention is paid to honorees, actors and actresses, who bring characters to life by imbuing them with passion, humor, song and searing honesty.  But before they ever rehearsed their first line, writers conceived of their world, choreographers were marking the steps, directors envisioned how shots were to be made and producers were in charge of the whole ball of wax.

By encouraging LGBTQ artists and visionaries to tell their stories and amplify their rich and diverse lives through entertainment media, GLAAD is excited to see that this is a banner year for so many talented LGBTQ content creators on network and cable television, as well as online platforms.  Some are first time nominees, and others are legends in their own right.

In this first of two pre-Sunday features on Emmy nominees, we’re spotlighting LGBTQ first-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Emmy Award honorees.  Though several have been recognized on the festival circuit and other award programs, this is their first foray on this TV red carpet.  So…let’s begin.

Netflix:  Making A MurdererLaura Ricciardi and Moira Demos impacted the viewing public in a way no one really expected.  Making a Murder: Fighting for Their Lives was part of a Netflix documentary series that examined crime stories from an in-depth investigative format.  The series was filmed over the course of ten years, with the filmmakers moving back and forth from New York City to Wisconsin during filming. Moira and Laura share nominations for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Writing for a Non-Fiction Program, while Laura is also nom’d for Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Series.

(At press time, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos shared two Emmys for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Writing for a Non-Fiction Program, and Laura Ricciardi won the Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Non-Fiction Series.  In accepting the awards,  they thanked their families, production team and subjects by saying “If they had not trusted us to take the time to listen and share their stories accurately and fairly, there would be no series.”

 

Even though Tig Notaro is a familiar presence to those of us who have enjoyed her appearances on The Office, Community, Dog Bites Man, and (as if we need a reminder) as “Officer Tig” on The Sarah Silverman Program, she is up for her first Emmy (Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special) for her HBO special Tig Notaro:  Boyish Girl Interrupted.  Many artists use their private lives as fodder for their public material, but Tig has always been right out there; honest and candid in a way that unites the audience in the experience of our shared humanity.  As she stated within a Deadline.com interview:

I think that people are going to think of me however they want to think of me. Whether it’s female, or gay, or cancer, or funny, or unfunny. I have no control over that and so I always go back to, “Well, I think this is funny or interesting, and I’m going to talk about that.”  I just try not to think too much about how I’m perceived.  I think as long as I’m still selling tickets and can pay my mortgage, then people are probably thinking good enough things or whatever about me to keep the train moving.

(At press time, The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Prime Time Special won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special.)

 

Jen Richards is a writer, actress, consultant and advocate, who can now count this first Emmy nomination to her list of honors.  As the co-writer, star and producer of Her Story, she is nominated for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series, the only indie web series to be nominated that category.  The series was Executive Produced by The Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler, and produced by Katherine Fisher. An accomplished and leading voice within the trans community, she co-founded and was the director of The Trans 100, was a series regular on the GLAAD Award-winning E! reality series I Am Cait, and was featured in Logo’s Beautiful As I Want To BeHer Story is about two trans women in Los Angeles who have given up on love, when suddenly chance encounters give them hope.

(At press time, Children’s Hospital won the Emmy in this category.)

 

GLAAD has praised GAYCATION since it first premiered for pushing the reality show genre into new, uncharted and vulnerable realms.  As its co-Executive Producer and creator, Academy Award-nominated actress Ellen Page guides us through LGBTQ cultures around the world…often risking her life, and that of her best friend Ian Daniel.  There really has been nothing like it on television.  Nominated for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program, GAYCATION has taken us from Ukraine and the tragedy of Orlando, to a life-threatening trip to Brazil.

(At press time, Born This Way, the disability stereotype-busting reality show, won the Emmy Award in this category.)

 

Whether telling our stories is scripted, documented or told in a reality setting, accelerating acceptance of LGBTQ people is most powerfully done one story at a time ... one image at a time ... one episode at a time.  Content matters, and the power of entertainment media cannot be denied.  So whether our stories win awards or not, they have already succeeded in becoming part of the narrative of who we are as a people and a culture.  ACCEPT may well be one of the most powerful words in moving LGTBQ people and families forward into a future free from bias.