SCENE & HEARD// What Regina King’s Open Letter of Emmy Whitewash Really MeansPublished by Adisa Vera Beatty on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 8:01 am.
When Regina King wrote her open letter about the lack of diversity and recognition for actors of color at the 2010 Emmys, it was reminiscent of Halle Berry’s historic 2002 Oscar win and speech. Only eight years ago Halle became the first Black woman to receive the coveted Best Actress title. Berry named actresses, such as Dorothy Dandridge and Angela Bassett, stating that her win was a victory for, “every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.” Whether or not the Academy Awards— or any other award shows like it—hold weight in your world, you felt the significance of Berry’s words and tears.
Granted the Emmys are not the Oscars. And this isn’t a comparison between Regina King and Halle Berry. This is simply recognition of certain truths. As King states in her open letter,“ Up to and including this year, there have only been 53 non-white actors nominated out of nearly 1,000 possible nominations in the top four acting categories for drama and comedy.” King went on to further question why deceased Sesame Street actress and her 227 cast mate Alaina Reed Hall was absent from the memoriam tribute considering Sesame Street is an “American Institution” that has been for generations—and of which Reed Hall starred for over a decade.
King closed her letter by questioning just what the process is for deciding what deceased actors and actresses will be recognized in the Emmy’s memoriam. King’s open letter and Berry’s Oscar speech speak loudly to the world and our children about race, struggle and dignity. But this isn’t a new conversation so the question remains: Where do we take things from here?