The 2018 Emmys: Of Africa edition3 minute read

Last month the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards took place in Los Angeles and honoured the best in U.S. prime time television. There were a number of memorable moments including a proposal, ‘Reparation Emmys‘ and a number of women Of Africa nominated and in some cases awarded for their work. Besides their nominations, these wonderfully talented women also have a number of similarities.

Thandie Newton and Tiffany Haddish have both spoken out about sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. Quite recently Tiffany discussed it with Jada Pinkett and Thandie has been a vocal activist against sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood for 20 years. In 2013 long before #metoo and #TIMESUP (which Thandie feels has left her out) Thandie discussed on CNN the sexual abuse she experienced during an audition.

On a lighter note Issa Rae, Letitia Wright and Tiffany Haddish were featured in Drake’s music video Nice For What and Issa & Tiffany starred as Rachel and Phoebe from Friends in Jay-Z’s music video Moonlight.

Let’s take a closer look at the work that got them recognized by The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Issa Rae

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With her own unique flare and infectious sense of humor, Issa Rae's content has garnered over 23 million views and over 200,000 YouTube subscribers (and counting). Issa's hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl launched in February of 2011, and it ran for two “seasons” on #youtube. The success of her Web series led to the development of her comedy series for #HBO, Insecure. She was born in Los Angeles, California. Her father, is a pediatric doctor from #Senegal, and her mother is a teacher from #Louisiana. Issa and her family lived in #Dakar, Senegal for a short period during her childhood. • Season 2 of Insecure premiered 3 days a ago, so if you haven't watched season 1 it's time to #bingewatch because "before “Insecure,” there were no prime time shows that so vividly depicted the black, female, millennial experience. At least, not ones that mattered. In a perfect world, none of this would be cause for so much celebration, or provide so much fodder for think pieces… The real issue was that, like always, the industry was incredibly slow to realize, to even consider, that representations of black women on television can also span age and socio-economic status, that the genre doesn’t always have to be a hard-hitting work drama, that black women do in fact have coming-of-age stories worth telling. Web series like “An African City” and “roomieloverfriends” got that, but the lack of a smart and funny black millennial perspective on primetime cable or network TV was glaring." – Zeba Blay • #OfAfrica #Innovation #OfAfricaMag #diaspora #Africandiaspora #Insecure #ABG #BlackGirlsRock #immigrant #melaninpopping #blackgirlmagic #IssaRae #AnAfricanCity #roomieloverfriends #girls #twobrokegirls #newgirl #millenials #gender #representationmatters

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Issa Rae was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance as Issa Dee in her own writing vehicle Insecure. Before Insecure Issa blessed us with The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and last year at the Emmys when asked who she was rooting for she unapologetically replied:

Thandie Newton

Thandie and her Zimbabwean mother, Nyasha. Credit: thandienewton/instagram

Thandie Newton won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance as Maeve in Westworld. Check out the video below where Thandie discusses with Trevor Noah how her role as Maeve has been empowering by making a statement with her body.  

Letitia Wright

Letitia Wright is a British-Guyanese actress who was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a limited series or movie for her performance as Nish in the episode Black Museum of the popular Sci-Fi series Black Mirror. Letitia also won many hearts as Princess Shuri in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.

Tiffany Hadish

Credit: Television Academy/Youtube

Tiffany Haddish won the award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series as a Host for Saturday Night Live. In hosting the legendary live comedy sketch show she also made history by being the first black female comic to do so. Tiffany’s late father was an Eritrean Jew and she has always made a point to honour her cultural legacy whenever she can. At last year’s Academy Awards when asked what she was wearing she proudly proclaimed,  “I’m wearing an Eritrean authentic princess dress; I’m proud of it.” And for the night of her big win, she wore a custom-made Prabal Gurung piece that was made to resemble the Eritrean flag in honour of her father.


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Julia Chanda Zvobgo is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Of Africa’. She was born in Zimbabwe and raised in The Netherlands. As an Afropean she is always looking for new and creative ways to “make the invisible, visible”. She is a co-founder and a member of 'ethnovision' a collective of visual anthropologists and filmmakers. Julia also volunteers as the Director of Communications & Development for Tariro House of Hope, an NGO that transforms the lives of children and their communities in Zimbabwe.