• Roots picked up seven nominations for the 2016 Emmys (SBS)Source: SBS
The 2016 Emmy Awards look set to be far more diverse than this year's Academy Awards with vital culturally diverse stories like that of miniseries Roots finally being given the platform they deserve.
By
Genevieve Dwyer

15 Jul 2016 - 2:44 PM  UPDATED 15 Jul 2016 - 3:07 PM

The 1977 mini-series Roots broke records with an astounding 39 nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Now, the new remake, premiering on SBS this month, is set to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor by making a powerful impact on the red carpet. 

After this year's Academy Awards were dogged by the #OscarsSoWhite criticism for a lack of cultural diversity among the nominees, the organisers behind TV's night of nights must be rather pleased to shows like Roots leading the charge. 

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Based on the 1976 Pulitzer Prize winning book written by Alex Haley, the 1977 screening of Roots was something of a cultural phenomenon, both in its home country and in Australia too, with its scathing indictment of race relations amid the brutal slavery plantations of early America.

The original Roots still remains the most watched TV series of all time in the United States and the new series has premiered to huge audiences there this year ahead of its Australian premiere on SBS.

Now, with a total of seven nominations, this year's Roots is up for outstanding limited series; outstanding casting for a limited series, movie or special; outstanding costumes for a period/fantasy series, limited series or movie; outstanding hairstyling for a limited series or movie; outstanding makeup for a limited series or movie (non-prosthetic); outstanding narrator (Laurence Fishburne); and outstanding sound editing for a limited series, movie or special.

It's not the only stand-out program among the nominees to address a contentious era of race politics in the States either - The People v OJ Simpson  received an incredible 22 nominations  - second only to Game of Thrones with 23. 

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The biographical series centres on the true story of the infamous O. J. Simpson murder trial through the lens of the early 90s, when racial politics came to the fore in the wake of the Rodney King beatings and the subsequent LA riots. No doubt the fact that the era felt so chillingly familiar to current racial tensions in the States was part of the reason The People v OJ Simpson  gained such huge audiences when it screened there earlier this year. 

First-time nominee Aziz Ansari is yet another breath of fresh air helping to break down the predominantly white-washed walls of prime-time television with comedy program Master of None, which received four nominations (including one for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for Ansari) and focuses on aspiring actor Dev and his group of friends simply navigating daily life in New York City.  

Speaking to Variety magazine earlier this year following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Ansari said “Our show, it’s Indian guy, Asian guy, so there’s going to be more Indian people, Asian people.”

He pointed out though that they never actually set out to be political, "we have a diverse group of friends and we didn’t even really think about it when we were making the show that ‘oh this is diverse.’ We were just like this feels real.”

Among the non-white actors who were recognised for their work, were Taraji P. Henson of Empire and Viola Davis of How to Get Away with Murder and Rami Malek of Mr Robot.

Special mention must go to Anthony Anderson of Black-ish who actually read out his own name at the nominations series, for best lead actor in a comedy series. Marvel at his reaction below:

 

Plus of course Titus Burgess of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a gay black actor who probably wrapped up the whole diversity issue the best when he posted this hilarious clip of his eponymous character  saying "it's an honour for you to honour me!" 

 

 

 

Roots premieres on Wednesday 27 July at 8:30pm on SBS and encores on Saturday 30 July, 9.30pm on NITV. After they air, episodes will be available on SBS On Demand.

Watch the preview right here:

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