From Mj Rodriguez to ‘Ted Lasso,’ 2021 Looks to Be a Banner Year for Breaking Emmy Records

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With diversity among key nominees at the 73rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards up 17% year over year, there is great potential for even more records to be shattered come the Sept. 19 ceremony.

Four of the six slots for lead drama actor went to Black actors, two of whom are former winners — Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”) and Billy Porter (“Pose”). If either of those two win, he would be only the second Black actor to repeat a victory in this category. (The previous was “I Spy’s” Bill Cosby, who won three times: 1966, 1967 and 1968.)

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In the Emmys’ 73-year history there have only been two people of color who won back-to-back acting trophies in the same category (and both were men). In addition to Cosby, Charles S. Dutton picked up statues for “The Practice” in 2002 and “Without a Trace” in 2003, both in the guest drama actor category. After winning guest comedy actress last year for “Saturday Night Live,” Maya Rudolph can join that list of achievers if she picks up a trophy this year for her work as Vice President Kamala Harris.

Porter ’s “Pose” co-star Mj Rodriguez already made history this year when she was nominated in the lead drama actress category; she is the first-ever transgender performer to be nominated in a major acting category at the Emmys. She is also just the second Latina to be nominated, following Rita Moreno (“The Rockford Files”) in 1979. If Rodriguez wins, she will be the first-ever transgender performer to win an Emmy in any category and the first Latina in this one. (Moreno lost to Mariette Hartley of “The Incredible Hulk.”)

Also making strides for LGBTQIA-plus representation at the Emmys is supporting comedy actor nominee Carl Clemons-Hopkins (“Hacks”), who could be the first openly non-binary actor to pick up an acting prize.

RuPaul has his fair share of Emmys, with eight between his five for reality host and three as executive producer of competition program winner “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” He is nominated again this year for three Emmys, and if he manages to win two of them, he’ll tie Donald A. Morgan for receiving the most Emmys of any Black artist in the awards’ history; all three would have him take the mantle.

Tracee Ellis Ross landed her fifth nomination for ABC’s “Black-ish,” a category that has not seen a Black winner since Isabel Sanford’s win for “The Jeffersons” in 1981.

If Bowen Yang, nominated in supporting comedy actor for “Saturday Night Live,” or Phillipa Soo, nominated in supporting limited series/TV movie actress for “Hamilton,” wins, he or she will be the first nominee of Asian descent to take home that respective statue.

Looking outside the diversity space, there are plenty of other records that could be broken. Apple TV Plus’ “Ted Lasso,” for one, is eyeing “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s” position as the most-awarded comedy series in its inaugural season. “Maisel” won eight, and “Ted Lasso” is nominated for 20. Of course, some of those nominations are in the same category, so its total tally on show night won’t be 20, but between Creative Arts and Primetime categories it is still a serious challenger to “Maisel” at the moment.

There’s also the battle of the streamers at hand. Hulu and Amazon Prime Video are the only two to win the drama and comedy series categories thus far (“The Handmaid’s Tale” in 2017 for Hulu; “Maisel” in 2018 and “Fleabag” in 2019 for Amazon). This year, Netflix eyes its first win on the drama side for “The Crown,” which tied (with Disney Plus’ “The Mandalorian”) for the most overall nominations for the year with 24.

Speaking of Disney Plus, one year after breaking into the drama race with a surprise nom for “The Mandalorian,” the newer streamer has an impressive tally of its own between that drama and limited series “WandaVision” (23 noms) alone. With “The Underground Railroad” and “I May Destroy You” underperforming in total nom tallies, Disney Plus could pull to the front of the pack not only in the limited series race but also with total wins

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