It’s been 15 years since we saw Syd Burnett (Gabrielle Union) taking names and stealing scenes from her brother Marcus (Martin Lawrence) and then-boyfriend Mike (Will Smith) in Bad Boys II. Back then, Syd was working for the federal government and toppling cartels in Miami.Now, Syd moves to Los Angeles (and television) on L.A.’s Finest, a follow-up of sorts that shares her new adventures as an L.A. cop alongside her equally badass partner, Nancy McKenna (Jessica Alba). Together, Syd and Nancy — not named for the infamous punk duo, they promise — encounter action-packed crime scenarios at work and in their personal lives. They might not trust each other with all their dirty secrets at first, but no matter what, Syd and Nancy always have each other’s backs.“It felt really modern to tell this story of this friendship and this partnership of two women in a modern time, in a modern world,” Alba said during Rotten Tomatoes visit to the show s Los Angeles-area set in February. “You don t have to call out that we re women all the time. We re just people in the world that you want to hang out with.”L.A.’s Finest premieres May 13. It’s the first original series for cable provider Charter Communications/Spectrum, and thus it’s a guinea pig of sorts for the service. The Spectrum Original series will be available on demand for customers of the cable service only, but Union isn’t worried about people missing her show.“I love a challenge,” she said. The proof is in the pudding.”From Clean-Cut Procedural to Rough-and-Real Drama(Photo by Nicole Wilder/Spectrum Originals)On paper, L.A.’s Finest might sound like a procedural: Two cops fighting crime in Los Angeles. But with Michael Bay’s 90s action flick Bad Boys as its source material — and support from Jerry Bruckheimer Television — L.A.’s Finest feels more like an action-thriller series than a clean-cut cop drama.According to its producers, though, L.A.’s Finest wasn’t always so gritty and real. The shift from procedural crime show to action-packed drama happened when L.A.’s Finest moved from NBC to Spectrum, after the team had already finished shooting the pilot.Producer Anton Cropper (Suits, Black-ish) said, in some ways, the series straddles the differences between network and cable narratives: “We always talk about the difference between network and cable, and we wanted it to have that cable feel. We wanted this to feel cinematic, Cropper said. Especially in today s age, everyone has 80-inch TVs. We wanted this to feel like a 13-episode movie. For the L.A. s Finest team, the cable vibe wasn t just about a visual look that combined TV and cinematic techniques. It also meant focusing on characters’ relationships and emotional lives rather than just the nitty gritty of their jobs as detectives.“It s different for a show like ours to tackle more of the personal relationships and less of a procedural,” Alba said. “You really get to go on that journey with us.”Alba and Union agreed that there were some real, concrete differences when the series was aiming for network distribution. Their wardrobes were more limited, their characters felt more archetypical, and Syd’s sexuality was, well, straight.“In the NBC version,” Union said, “there is no woman in my bed But in the Spectrum/Charter version, she s back!”Originally, Nancy was more “uptight” with a “perfect life,” and Syd was “the rebellious one,” Alba revealed.“It was always sort of keeping us inside of these boundaries and these roles, she said. In real life people, are a lot more fluid… and so that s how we want to see women on this show.”The Series Is Action Packed(Photo by Sony Pictures Television/Spectrum Originals, Photographer: Erica Parise)Right off the bat, L.A.’s Finest throws its audience into the heart of Los Angeles — a.k.a. right into traffic. In the first episode, Syd and Nancy are seen engaging in the most typical Los Angeles behavior possible: arguing over traffic, the GPS, and local routes of navigation. Sure, the series features on-location scenes everywhere from Santa Monica to Koreatown, but its representation of life in Los Angeles isn’t necessarily the most realistic one. Specifically, Syd’s apartment and Nancy’s house are way outside the typical budgets for L.A. law enforcement. But Union says the show is self-aware about the luxury these ladies live in. In fact, Union said that’s part of the point.“[Syd has] clearly played loose and fast with the rules, she said. She hasn’t been an L.A. detective for that long, so what exactly was she doing for the D.E.A.?”In other words, what has Syd done to afford this room with a view? What has she done to hide, or otherwise evade, potential demons from her past?L.A.’s Finest has Alba and Union driving all over the city chasing perps and evading figures from their respective pasts. While the two do some of their own hand-to-hand combat, they do have stunt doubles that face most of the action for them. But the driving? It s often really Alba behind the wheel, Union says.“I’m like, where’s the stunt driver?” she laughed. “And they’re like, Jessica has opted to do it! ”In Alba s defense, it s fun, though, the actress said.Yeah — “for her,” Union joked. “It’s one big anxiety attack for me.”Opening Up the Bad Boys Universe(Photo by Sony Pictures Television/Spectrum Originals / Photographer: Nicole Wilder)Even though L.A. s Finest is focused on Syd s life now, her partnership with Alba s Nancy, and how these women s past lead them to such turbulent and complex presents, Union is also open to including other Bad Boys characters in the mix. The Bad Boys universe exists so we can have these Avengers-type moments where can all sort of be together, that would be amazing, Union said. The door is always open for them. In fact, the new Spectrum series has already expanded the Bad Boys family by introducing Syd s estranged father (played by Ghostbusters star Ernie Hudson) into the mix. We had to figure out what would cause an estrangement to the degree where you d never met Ernie s character in the Bad Boys universe — you d never really heard of Marcus having parents, Union said. We had to come up with a mythology that really explained his absence and their relationship. (Photo by Spectrum Originals)From the get-go, it was Union leading the charge on reintroducing Syd s story and incorporating Nancy in the series.“It really did start with Gabrielle, L.A. s Finest co-executive producers and writer Brandon Margolis (pictured above left). Margolis said that he and his writing partner and fellow showrunner, Brandon Sonnier (above right), met with Union to pitch a Syd-centric TV series, and everything grew from there.“It was a real blessing to have these two strong women who can do the action, but equally hit the comedy timing and those comedy beats and moments, which are a real hallmark of the Bad Boys universe,” Sonnier said during our set visit in February.Sonnier expressed a real appreciation of Alba and Union s chemistry, too.“They right off the bat had a trust and a camaraderie, he said. They came in as equals and it immediately showed up on the screen.”(Later in February, Sonnier and Margolis were involved in an on-set accident that resulted in Sonnier s leg being partially amputated, but is still working, according to an interview Charter Content Chief Katherine Pope gave to Cablefax.com this month: He was at our final mix and in editing we treasure him. )(Photo by Sony Pictures Television/Spectrum Originals, Photographer: Erica Parise)The duo s on-screen chemistry is a translation of their real-life naughty sense of humor, as Union explained it.Alba described the show s creative working environment: “During the pilot we did a lot of ad-libbing and we would just riff off each other.”More than inside jokes, though, the two are committed to fostering a behind-the-scenes space that accommodates their lives as mothers, too.“I needed somebody that was gonna be on board with a new way of filming, a new way of doing this Hollywood thing,” Union said. And when Alba decorated her trailer as a nursery to prepare for her new baby, Union knew she’d picked the right partner.To hear their fellow producers and costars tell it, everyone benefits from that parent-safe and accommodating environment. Ryan McPartlin, who plays Nancy’s husband, Ryan, has also brought his kids — 9- and 12-year-old boys — to set.“God forbid, it s probably gonna make them want to become actors,” McPartlin joked.Partners in Crime — On-Screen and Off(Photo by Sony Pictures Television/Spectrum Originals, Photographer: Ron Batzdorff)In addition to starring in the series, Alba and Union are also executive producers.It was Union who recruited Alba to be her partner on- and off-screen. Union knew she wanted a “boss, badass woman” to be her co-star — someone who would be confident in the middle of action scenes and voicing her opinion behind the scenes, too.“There s not too many women that run a billion-dollar company, have established iconic characters, who can kick ass, who has the same work ethic I do, who s not afraid to speak her mind,” Union said. “There s only one Jessica Alba. So that s why I started calling and begging… Sending tequila.”L.A’s Finest premieres Monday, May 13 on Spectrum on Demand.Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.
Netflix has acquired U.S., Canadian, and Latin American rights to release Aardman s A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, which currently has a 97% Tomatometer score, based its UK and other international releases. The Studiocanal feature will be available on Netflix in early 2020. Synopsis:When an alien named LU-LA crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, her magical powers, irrepressible mischief and galactic-sized burps soon have Shaun the Sheep and his flock enchanted. But when Shaun takes his new extraterrestrial friend on the road to find her lost spaceship, little does he know that a sinister alien-hunting agency is on their trail. Now Shaun and the flock must avert Farmageddon before it’s too late.Steven Soderbergh will executive produce Wireless, a survival drama on Quibi, the shortform streaming service set to debut next April. Ready Player One’s Tye Sheridan will star as a college student who is stuck in the Colorado mountains after a car crash and has nothing but his cell phone to try to save his own life. Steven Spielberg, Idris Elba, Trevor Noah, Guillermo del Toro, Jennifer Lopez, Lena Waithe, Sam Raimi, and Antoine Fuqua are among the other creatives creating content for Quibi.This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown is executive producer on Every Other Weekend, a comedy series being developed at Fox. The show follows four single moms who get together for two weekends every month – when their kids are with their exes – to revisit their younger days of fun and freedom. The show is created by Everybody Hates Chris writer Adrienne Carter, who will also star in the series, with Ryan Michelle Bathé (This Is Us) and Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals). (Deadline)Captain America: Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo are producing Slugfest, a Quibi documentary series that will examine the rivalry between Marvel and DC. The series is based on author Reed Tucker’s 2017 book Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC.Sin City author Frank Miller has signed a deal with Legendary TV for the company to create live-action and animated TV series based on his graphic novel. Robert Rodriguez, who directed the 2005 Sin City movie, is negotiating to be executive producer on the series, which is guaranteed for at least one season as long as Legendary can secure a distribution deal with a network or streaming service.Emmy-winning Rick and Morty writer Jessica Gao is developing a She-Hulk series for Disney+.Jeopardy’s three winningest players – Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer, who’ve won nearly million and more than 100 games in total – will battle each other for a million prize. Beginning on January 7 in primetime, the three will face other in a series of games until one person wins three matches, each consisting of two games. The winner gets a million bucks, and the other two win 0,000 each.Nat Geo is bringing back the series Brain Games, with new host Keegan-Michael Key, on January 20. Key will be joined by celebrities Anthony Anderson, Kristen Bell, Jack Black, Mark Cuban, Ted Danson, Tiffany Haddish, Dax Shepard, Meghan Trainor, the Farrelly brothers, and Rebel Wilson, who will participate in challenges, illusions, and demonstrations to help viewers discover “the untapped potential of our brains and reveal the science behind the tricks our own minds can play on us.”Former Saturday Night Live star Vanessa Bayer created and will star in the Showtime comedy pilot Big Deal, about a woman who survives childhood leukemia and realizes her dream of becoming a QVC host. The story is inspired by Bayer’s own experience as a survivor of leukemia when she was a child. Michael Showalter will direct the pilot, while Inside Amy Shumer writer Jessi Klein will be the series showrunner.The Masked Singer host Nick Cannon will host a syndicated talk show from New York City beginning in 2020.The Big Bang Theory alum Johnny Galecki is teaming with friend Brian Kelley, of the country music group Florida Georgia Line, to redevelop the comedy Bait and Tackle for CBS. The multicam comedy pilot was in consideration for pickup last season, but has been reworked to focus on a group of friends who run a bait shop in a small Georgia town. (THR)The cast of The Wire will reunite for the Deon Cole–hosted American Black Film Festival in Beverly Hills on February 23. The HBO drama is being recognized with the Classic Television Award at the ceremony.Eddie Murphy’s first time hosting Saturday Night Live in 35 years has been set for the show’s 2019-ending Dec. 21 episode, with musical guest Lizzo.Quibi has ordered a series version of the 1999 high school football movie Varsity Blues, which starred James Van Der Beek and the late Paul Walker. The movie’s producers Mike Tollin and Tova Laiter will serve as executive producers on the series.Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.
Back in 1975, Steven Spielberg released a little movie about a killer shark into the world and changed the film industry forever, turning cinema into event entertainment and raking in boatloads of cash. More than four decades later, Hollywood continues to churn out its biggest, most spectacular movies during the summer months, and fans flock to theaters hungry for thrills and expecting to be wowed. All of this made us wonder about summer movie seasons past, not just from a commercial standpoint, but also from a critical perspectiv
(Photo by Everett Collection, Apple TV+, David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images, Mark Davis/Getty Images)Before we say goodbye to Black History Month, we’re honoring some pioneers in the TV medium who overcame obstacles to diversify the American cultural experience.From the first Black actor to appear on TV to a media mogul who ranks among the country’s wealthiest people, these 41 performers and creatives changed television and paved the way for those that followed.Here is a timeline featuring Black TV trailblazers and over 65 of their firsts:1939 and 1962: Ethel Waters Appears on TV and Is Nominated for an Emmy (Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)Ethel Waters was the first Black performer seen on television. Her one-night variety special, The Ethel Waters Show, aired on NBC in 1939. She was joined by fellow Black actresses, Fredi Washington and Georgette Harvey, and they performed part of her play Mamba s Daughters. Waters in 1962 would also become the first Black person to be nominated for an Emmy with her nomination for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for her work in episode Goodnight, Sweet Blues in the CBS adventure series Route 66. She is credited also as being the first Black woman to appear on radio, as well as several other “firsts.”1948: Amanda Randolph Appears in a TV Sitcom (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)In 1948, Randolph starred in the DuMont network’s The Laytons. The sitcom was short-lived (it only ran from August to October of that year), but it marked the first time American TV audiences could regularly see a Black woman on a series. Randolph performs above in a photo from the 1944 musical program Amanda and the Boys.1950: Hazel Scott Hosts a TV Show(Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)As Waters’ program only lasted one night, 1950’s The Hazel Scott Show gets the credit for being the first series to have a Black host, according to American film historian Donald Bogle in his book Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television. The 15-minute-long program, which first aired at 7:45 p.m. Fridays – and later ran on Mondays and Wednesdays, as well – was a musical format and featured Scott, a former child prodigy who had made a name for herself in tony New York supper clubs and movies like 1943 s Something to Shout About (pictured above) and 1945 s Rhapsody in Blue.1956 and 1960: Harry Belafonte and Sammy Davis Jr. Become Emmy Nominees and Belafonte Wins an Emmy(Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images; Courtesy Everett Collection)The two celebrated performers were both nominated in the since-retired category of Primetime Emmy Award for Best Specialty Act Single or Group in 1956. Belafonte would go on to become the first Black performer to win an Emmy with his TV special Tonight With Belafonte, which was part of The Revlon Revue. Davis Jr. went on to be nominated for Outstanding Variety Act (1966) for The Swinging World of Sammy Davis Jr., Outstanding Cameo and Guest Appearances for One Live to Live (1980) and The Cosby Show (1989), eventually winning an Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy for Sammy Davis Jr.’s 60th Anniversary Celebration (1990).1956: Nat King Cole Gets His Own Network TV Series (Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)The renowned singer of such hits as “Unforgettable,” “L.O.V.E.,” and “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” was the first Black entertainer with a network TV series. The Nat King Cole Show ran for one season on NBC. His guests included legendary talent like Ella Fitzgerald, pictured with Cole above.1957: Louis S. Peterson Wins the Drama-Writing Emmy Award(Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)Though the Television Academy has nominated three, no Black writer has won an Emmy for writing a drama series. The first nomination went to playwright Peterson in 1957 for NBC’s Goodyear Playhouse episode “Joey,” which starred Anthony Perkins in the title role. (The two other nominees were David Mills in both 1996 and 1997 for NYPD Blue and Shonda Rhimes in 2006 for Grey s Anatomy.) Peterson cowrote the screenplay for 1959 film Take a Giant Step (pictured), based on his play of the same name.1963 and 1974: Cicely Tyson Stars in a TV Drama and Wins the Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Emmy(Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)Tyson starred in the series East Side/West Side, which premiered in 1963, and later won the 1974 Emmy Award for her starring role in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. She is also the first Black woman to receive an honorary Oscar.1966: Bill Cosby Wins the Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy(Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)The I Spy star won this category three years in a row and is the first Black actor to be nominated for and win a primetime Emmy and for a drama. Cosby went on to create and host the first all-Black cartoon, 1972 s Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids — introduced in 1969 primetime special Hey, Hey, Hey, It s Fat Albert — and starred as Cliff Huxtable in popular sitcom The Cosby Show, which ran from 1984 to 1992. He was also the first Black entertainer to win the Outstanding Variety or Musical Program Emmy for The Bill Cosby Special in 1969. Cosby s achievements have been largely overshadowed in recent years by his conviction on three counts of aggravated sexual assault and reports highlighting other allegations.1968: Diahann Carroll Stars as a Character With an Occupation That Was Not Cliché(Photo by NBCU Photo Bank)Diahann Carroll was the first Black woman to star in a TV series in a role that was not a housekeeper. Julia ran on NBC from 1968 to 1971, and Carroll starred as widowed nurse Julia Baker, raising a young son after the death of her husband in the Vietnam War.1967: Eartha Kitt Becomes Catwoman (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)Singer and actress Eartha Kitt took over the role as villain Catwoman on the 1960s live-action superhero series Batman from Julie Newmar, becoming the first Black entertainer to be cast in a comic book–based role. Though she only appeared in five episodes, Catwoman became one of her best-known roles.1969: Della Reese Hosts a Talk Show (Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)The former singer tried her hand at a talk show after also making history as the first woman ever to guest-host The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Though the series lasted only one season, the entertainer forged a path for the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Queen Latifah, Tyra Banks, and Wendy Williams.1971: Flip Wilson Wins Variety Series Emmy(Photo by Courtesy of Everett Collection)Comedian Flip Wilson received an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Series – Musical for his wildly successful comedy series The Flip Wilson Show. The show ran for four seasons and enjoyed significant commercial success with an estimated audience of nearly 16.8 million in its first season, putting it second only to Marcus Welby, M.D. that year. The series increased its audience to 17.5 million in its second season (though it again took second place in ratings for the year — this time after All in the Family). Wilson is pictured above with guests Lena Horne and Tony Randall in a February 1974 episode.1970: Gail Fisher Wins an Acting Emmy as a Series Regular (Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)Winning on her first nomination, Fisher was nominated three more times in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy category for her role as secretary Peggy Fair on Mannix. I was the first black female — no, make that black, period — to make a national TV commercial, on camera, with lines, she said about her pitch for All detergent, according to a 2001 New York Times obituary. She went on to make guest appearances on Fantasy Island, General Hospital, Knight Rider, and other shows from the mid-1970s through 1990.1974: Teresa Graves Leads a Network Drama(Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)Graves starred in ABC crime-drama Get Christie Love! as an undercover police officer. She is credited the first Black woman to lead a network drama and the second Black woman to star in an hour-long series after Diahann Carroll in sitcom Julia. A Jehovah s Witness, she retired from acting soon after the series to devote her time to religion.1977: Roots Becomes a TV Phenomenon(Photo by Courtesy Everett Collection)The eight-part miniseries, based on Alex Haley s 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, broke viewership records at the time of its airing. Nielsen put viewership of the show’s finale at just over one half of the U.S. population, which was 220 million at the time. The series portrayed slavery from Africa in the mid-1700s to post-Civil War America and spawned a sequel, Roots: The Next Generations, that continued the story into the 19th and 20th centuries. The original series garnered 37 Primetime Emmy nominations and won nine, including Best Limited Series. The author is pictured above with series star LeVar Burton, who went on to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series for his role as Kunta Kinte in episode Part 1. 1977: Louis Gossett Jr. Wins an Emmy(Photo by ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection)His Roots costars John Amos, Levar Burton, and Ben Vereen were also nominated in the Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie category, but Gossett Jr. made history with his win. Gossett Jr. is pictured above left with costar Burton in a production still from Roots.1977: Olivia Cole Wins an Emmy (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)Cole’s performance as Kizzy in Roots won her the first award for a Black actress in the category of Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Series, Single Appearance.1977: Black Vulture Joins the Super FriendsHanna-Barbera s Super Friends series featured classic DC Comics characters Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Batman and Robin. In 1977, The All-New Super Friends Hour introduced TV s first Black superhero, Black Vulcan (voiced by Buster Jones), a flying character who can manipulate lightning. The character was controversial because he essentially replaced DC Comics superhero Black Lightning, who the company could not get rights to portray. Black Vulcan appeared in his first adventure in episode The Whirlpool, teaming up with Aquaman to rescue an oil tanker.1978 and 1988: Max Robinson and Carole Simpson Anchor Network News (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)As co-anchor of the ABC’s World News Tonight, Robinson made history in July 1978 as the first Black anchor of a network news program. A decade later, Carole Simpson became the first Black woman to anchor a major network news show as weekend anchor at ABC News.1979 and 1985: Robert Guillaume Wins Comedy Acting Emmys(Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)The Benson star was the first Black actor to win in the lead actor in a comedy category. He won on his fifth nomination for his role as Benson DuBois, the same character that previously won the actor the comedy supporting actor Emmy for Soap.1980: The Johnsons Create Cable Network BET (Photo by Rebecca D'Angelo/Sygma via Getty Images)In January 1980, former husband-and-wife team Robert L. Johnson and Sheila Johnson founded Black Entertainment Television (BET) as a programming block on Madison Square Garden network (now USA Network). Three years later, the network became its own channel. The company was also the first Black-owned company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and the Johnsons are considered the first Black billionaires. In 2003, Robert Johnson also became the first Black U.S. principal owner of a North American major-league sports franchise with the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets). Viacom bought the network in 2000.1981: Isabel Sanford Wins Comedy Acting Emmy (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)Nominated in the Lead Actress in a Comedy Series category seven times for her role as Weezy on The Jeffersons, Sanford won once (on her third nomination).1982: Debbie Allen Wins Choreography Emmy and Is Nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series(Photo by MGM Television/courtesy Everett Collection)Allen was nominated for lead actress for her role as performing arts high school faculty member Lydia Grant in NBC drama Fame. She didn t win that award, but did make history as the first Black choreographer to win the Emmy for Outstanding Choreography for episode Come One, Come All. She won two more Emmys for her choreography: in 1993, for her Fame choreography in episode Class Act, and in 1991, for her work on Motown 30: What s Goin On! She has been nominated for 14 Emmys.1986: Oprah Winfrey Owns and Produces Her Own Show(Photo by Apple TV+)Media mogul Winfrey worked her way out of an impoverished childhood to become a daytime talk show phenomenon and the owner of her own production company, Harpo Productions, and subsidiaries like Oprah Winfrey Network. She was listed at No. 319 on the 2019 Forbes 400 list and is now regularly touted as the most influential woman in the entertainment industry — and often “in the world.” She is an author and a 13-time Daytime Emmy Award winner. She was awarded the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award during the 2002 Primetime Emmys and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2012 Academy Awards. She recently partnered with Apple TV+ to develop documentaries and series including her current show Oprah s Book Club.1987: Jackée Harry and Winifred Hervey Win Emmys Jackée — Harry s stage name — played Sandra Clark opposite star Marla Gibbs Mary Jenkins in NBC comedy series 227, about relationships between neighbors in a Washington, D.C., apartment building. Gibbs was the first Black actress nominated in the category in 1981 for her role as Florence Johnston on The Jeffersons. Jackée went on to star as Lisa Landry on ABC/The WB sitcom Sister, Sister, Vanessa in Everybody Hates Chris, and JoAnn Payne in The Paynes, among many other roles. In the same ceremony, The Golden Girls producer Winifred Hervey made history accepting an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.1989: Arsenio Hall Hosts a Successful Late-Night Talk Show(Photo by Paramount Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.)Comedian and actor Hall was well known for filling in on The Late Show and for his role as Semmi, best friend to Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem in 1988 comedy Coming to America before he kicked off his own talk show, The Arsenio Hall Show.1990: In Living Color Premieres(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)NBC s Saturday Night Live (1975) may have featured the highest-profile Black sketch-comedy actors — including founding player Garrett Morris and, joining in 1980, Eddie Murphy — but In Living Color, created by Keenen Ivory Wayans and lasting for five seasons on Fox, was a disruptive force in the world of sketch comedy. “We became this bridge in America between white suburban kids and urban kids,” Wayans tells author David Peisner in Homey Don’t Play That!, a history of series. The revolutionary show featured a diverse cast and introduced hip-hop to the mainstream. It also launched the careers of actors Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, and T Keyah Crystal Keymáh and writers Larry Wilmore and Colin Quinn and introduced Jennifer Lopez and Carrie Ann Inaba as part of its dance troupe The Fly Girls, performing the choreography of actress Rosie Perez. The series won the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series Emmy for its first season.1991: Thomas Carter Wins Emmy For Directing a Drama Series, James Earl Jones Wins Supporting Actor EmmyCarter made history in August 1991 at the 43rd Primetime Emmy Awards with his Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series win for Equal Justice episode Promises To Keep. Carter had been nominated previously in the same category for an episode of Hill Street Blues in 1985 and for an episode of Midnight Caller in 1989. In the same year, actor James Earl Jones became the first Black actor to win Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Emmy for Heat Wave.1997: Miss Evers Boys Wins Emmy Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Chris Rock Wins Writing EmmyHBO movie Miss Evers Boys brought together two history makers to make history once more. Executive producer Laurence Fishburne became the first Black producer to win in the category. Emmys also went to Alfre Woodard for her role as Eunice Evers, Michael Brown for Editing for a Miniseries or a Special, and Donald M. Morgan for Cinematography for a Miniseries or a Special. Previously in 1987, Woodard was the first Black actress to win an Emmy for Guest Actress in a Drama Series in L.A. Law, then in 1993, Fishburne was the first Black actor to win Guest Actor in a Drama Series Emmy for his role in Tribeca. Also in 1997, Chris Rock was the first Black writer to win the Writing for a Variety Special Emmy for Chris Rock: Bring the Pain.2000: David Mills Wins a Writing Emmy, Charles S. Dutton Wins Directing Emmy (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)Former journalist Mills was nominated twice for writing on drama series NYPD Blue and received an Emmy in the Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special category for The Corner. He is the first, and only, Black person to win in this category. Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright August Wilson was the first Black writer nominated in the category in 1995, for Hallmark Hall of Fame special The Piano Lesson. Also in 2000, Charles S. Dutton became the first Black director to win in the Directing for a Miniseries or a Movie category, for The Corner.2002: Whoopi Goldberg EGOTs (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)In 2002, Goldberg became the first Black entertainer to EGOT (that is, win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) with her Daytime Emmy Award (Outstanding Special Class Special as host of Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel) and her Tony Award for Best Musical for Thoroughly Modern Millie that year. Goldberg is now the host of 30-time Daytime Emmy award winner The View. She won the 1986 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording for Whoopi Goldberg Original Broadway Show Record and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Ghost in 1991.2002: Larry Wilmore Wins Comedy-Writing Emmy(Photo by Michael Caulfield/WireImage)In Living Color writer, The Daily Show’s former “Senior Black Correspondent,” award-winning producer for Black-ish, and Insecure co-creator, Wilmore won the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Emmy for The Bernie Mac Show, for which he also won a Peabody award.2005: Shondaland Happens(Photo by Frank Ockenfels/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)Shonda Rhimes became the first woman to create and executive produce a top 10 network series with the founding of her production company, Shondaland, and her hit ABC primetime show Grey s Anatomy. With that show s enormous momentum, Rhimes built a TV empire that also included: Private Practice, Off the Map, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, The Catch, Still Star-Crossed, For the People, and Station 19. Winfrey is an Emmy-winning producer for 1999 s Tuesdays with Morrie, which won Outstanding Made for Television Movie. She is now creating shows for Netflix in a deal reportedly starting at 0 million with incentives, according to the New York Times. “I am the highest-paid showrunner in television,” Shonda Rhimes said at Elle magazine’s 25th annual Women in Hollywood event in October 2018, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The incentives in Rhimes deal must be bonkers, considering that Ryan Murphy s five-year Netflix deal is reportedly worth 0 million, and Greg Berlanti s four-year contract extension at Warner Bros TV is worth 0 million.2012: James Earl Jones EGOTs With an Honorary Oscar(Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)On November 12, 2011, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarded Jones an honorary Oscar making him the first Black actor to EGOT. (See also: John Legend in 2019.) Jones had previously won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy for playing Gabriel Bird in Gabriel s Fire and Supporting Actor in a Miniseries Emmy for his role as Junius Johnson in Heat Wave (both in 1990), the Best Spoken Word Grammy in 1977 for Great American Documents, and a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his role as fighter Jack Johnson in The Great White Hope (1969) and a second best actor Tony for his role as Troy Maxson in Fences (1997).2015: Viola Davis Wins Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)How to Get Away With Murder star Davis made history in an awards category where it was long overdue: the first Black actress to win an Emmy as the lead in a dramatic series. Davis would be nominated four more times for her role as Annalise Keating. Two years after her Emmy victory, Davis won her first Academy Award in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role category for her role as Rose Maxson in the film adaptation of Fences.2016: RuPaul and Key Peele Win Emmys(Photo by Logo / Courtesy: Everett Collection)Drag queen and music-maker RuPaul peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Dance Music Charts with 1992 song Supermodel (You Better Work). He later became a TV phenom with reality series RuPaul s Drag Race, in which drag queens compete to be selected America s next drag superstar, and won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program. He has received six Emmys overall for the show. Also that year, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele received the Variety Sketch Series Emmy for their Comedy Central series Key Peele. The category was relatively new, with the Outstanding Variety Series split in 2015 into Variety Talk Series and Variety Sketch Series.2017: Ava DuVernay, Ezra Edelman, and W. Kamau Bell Win Emmys(Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)Having made a huge splash in feature films as director and executive producer of critically acclaimed 2015 film Selma, DuVernay won two Emmys for 13th: She is the first Black writer to win for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming and Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special. The film was also nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category at the 2017 Academy Awards. She was nominated for the Outstanding Directing for a Nonfiction Program Emmy, but lost to Ezra Edelman, who is the first Black director to win the category and won for his work on O.J.: Made in America. In the same year, W. Kamau Bell was the first Black producer to win for Unstructured Reality Program for CNN series United Shades of America.2017: Lena Waithe Wins a Comedy-Writing Emmy(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)Lena Waithe is the first Black woman to win a comedy writing Emmy, an honor she accepted with her Master of None costar (and the series’ co-creator) Aziz Ansari in 2017. Titled “Thanksgiving,” the episode was part of the Netflix program’s second season and is a personal one for Waithe, as it follows her character’s relationship with her mother and how that evolved once she told her she was a lesbian. In her acceptance speech, Waithe spoke of the importance of diversity, both in entertainment and in society: “The things that make us different — those are our superpowers.”2017: Donald Glover Wins Emmy for Directing a Comedy Series Debbie DayActor and musician Donald Glover (known as Childish Gambino in his music career) has only ever directed for television on his award-winning comedy series Atlanta. He is the first Black director to win in the category and took two awards that year, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. While writing on the Tina Fey series 30 Rock, Glover also took home five Writers Guild of America awards.2018: John Legend EGOTs, Dave Chappelle: Equanimity Wins Emmy(Photo by JC Olivera/WireImage)John Legend became the first male Black entertainer to EGOT in competitive categories with his 2018 Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) for Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. Legend has 10 Grammy awards (out of 29 nominations). He received his first Grammy was for Best New Artist in 2006, and won his Oscar in 2015 for cowriting, with collaborator Common, the Best Original Song Glory from the film Selma. Legend received his Tony Award in 2017 for coproducing Best Revival of a Play winner Jitney. Legend is also the youngest EGOT winner ever. In the same ceremony, Dave Chappelle, Stan Lathan, Rikki Hughes won Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) Emmys for Dave Chappelle: Equanimity.2019: Billy Porter Wins EmmyPose star Porter is the first openly gay Black man to be nominated for and win an Emmy in a lead actor category. His Lead Actor in a Drama Series win was for his role as emcee and fashion designer Pray Tell in the FX series.