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Nomination of Asians drop for pandemic Emmys.

Emmys 2020. Photo by ABC/Lindha Narvaez.

The 72nd Primetime Emmys tonight will look drastically different during a global pandemic, Entertainment Tonight reports. That means no live audience, no pre-show, and no stars walking down the red carpet. 

But as Hollywood prepares for the biggest awards night of the season, representation for Asian American stars has hit a new low, NBC reports. Asian Americans made up a mere 1% of Emmy nominations in 2020, as opposed to a consistent 2% in the past ten years. 

Despite the steady stream of new content putting Asian Americans front and center, including Never Have I Ever, Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, Patriot Act with Hasan Minaj, Asian American led shows are still seen as ‘niche’ or ‘lacking mainstream appeal,’ according to NBC. 

“Shows featuring Asian Americans may be popular among younger generations who grew up with a diverse group of friends, but the voting members tend to skew older,” Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociologist who writes on pop culture, told NBC. “The older generations may see Asian American-led shows as niche or even foreign and not consider them for Emmy nominations.” 

The lack of representation has consequences, NBC reports. Actress Poorna Jagannathan, who stars in Never Have I Ever, said nominations and awards lead to higher viewership rates, more money and more support for future projects. Actors of color, whose options for work are already scarce, can greatly benefit. 

“It’s meaningful to get visceral reactions from fans of the work, but I also can’t denigrate the worth and importance of these institutions and their need to redeem us,” Jagannathan said, according to NBC. 

Mindy Kaling, producer of Never Have I Ever, seemingly discussed the lack of diversity in the Emmys in a Tweet, saying, “Sometimes a show like ours will always seem ethnic or niche to a certain group of people.” 

According to Entertainment Tonight, Mindy Kaling, along with other Asian American stars such as Ken Jeong and Randall Park, are expected to make appearances during the Emmy awards. With Jimmy Kimmel hosting at the Staples Center in downtown LA, nominees will be filmed with camera crews at their homes throughout the show. 

The Emmys comes two days shy of the passing of Supreme Court Justice and feminist icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday due to cancer complications at the age of 87, E Online reports. 

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the kind of scholar and patriot you get excited about explaining to your kids. The kind of person who you say ‘who knows, one day you could be HER.’” Kaling tweeted, according to E Online. “I hope you rest well, RBG, you must have been tired from changing the world.”

Ginsburg’s death has set off political tensions and conflict on whether to appoint a new judge before the current presidential term is over, E Online reports. 

“The way to honor her life and her legacy is to respect her dying wish, which was to ask that her seat not be filled until a new president is sworn in,” George Takei said via Twitter, according to E Online. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for all you have given us all these decades, I stand ready to fight for your final request.” 

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