This week in Black Art and Culture: Phantom of the Opera Cast its First Black Christine, Not Much Black Fashion at Met Gala

Above: Dave Chappelle. Photo by John Bauld This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.



This week in Black art and culture, The Creative Arts Emmys commenced, along with NYFW, the VMAs, and the Met Gala. Broadway prepared to reopen, announcing that Phantom of the Opera would cast its first Black Christine. The NFL made history as Maia Chaka became the first Black woman to officiate. 



Above: Keke Palmer. Photo by Gage Skidmore. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Creative Arts Emmy Winners 

The Creative Arts Emmy ceremonies, presented for technical and other achievements in TV programming, took place under a tent on the L.A. Live events deck in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 11 and 12, and were split into three events over two days. All guests were required by the Television Academy to provide confirmation of COVID-19 immunization. Instead of a single host, there were several presenters. 

On Saturday, Lovecraft Country won its first Emmy for Sound Editing, while on Sunday, Courtney B. Vance received his Guest Actor Award for Lovecraft Country. Both he and lead Sound Supervisor Tim Kimmel used the occasion to pay heartfelt homage to Michael K. Williams, who died recently. Maya Rudolph made history when she became the second Black woman to win back-to-back acting Emmys in the same category, according to Variety. 

Regina King made history by being the first Black woman to win back-to-back Emmys for her supporting role on American Crime in 2015 and 2016. An edited version of the Creative Arts Emmys will air at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, on FXX. The Primetime Emmys will air live Sunday, Sept. 19 on CBS and stream on Paramount+. 

Here’s a list of all the Black winners: 

  • Maya Rudolph won Best Comedy Guest Actress for Saturday Night Live and Best Character Voice-Over Performance for Big Mouth.
  • Dave Chappelle won Best Comedy Guest Actor for Saturday Night Live. 
  • Courtney B. Vance won Best Drama Guest Actor for Lovecraft Country. 
  • RuPaul won Best Unstructured Reality Program for RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked, Best Casting (Reality), Best Picture Editing (Structured Reality/Competition), Best Directing (Reality), Best Picture Editing (Structured Reality/Competition), and Best Reality Host for RuPaul’s Drag Race. 
  • Best Choreography (Scripted Program) Debbie Allen won Best Choreography (Scripted Program) for Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square. 
  • Pose won Best Costumes (Contemporary), Best Makeup (Contemporary, Non-Prosthetic) and Best Hairstyling (Contemporary) for Series Finale. 
  • Black Is King and Sherman’s Showcase Black History Month Spectacular tied with The Masked Singer for Best Costumes (Variety/Nonfiction/ Reality). 
  • I May Destroy You won Best Music Supervision for Ego Death. 
  • A Black Lady Sketch Show won Best Picture Editing (Variety) for Sister, May I Call You Oshun? 
  • J.B. Smoove won Best Short Form Actor for Mapleworth Murders.
  • Keke Palmer won best short form actress for Keke Palmer’s Turnt Up with the Taylors. 
  • Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man won Best Short Form Nonfiction/Reality. 
  • Lovecraft Country won Best Sound Editing (One Hour Series) for Sundown. 
  • Sterling K. Brown won Best Narrator for Lincoln: Divided We Stand. 

Met Gala + Lack of Black Representation 

During New York Fashion Week, the Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City returned to its usual grandeur. Invitees were required to be vaccinated for the event, which was cohosted this year by singer Billie Eilish, poet Amanda Gorman, actor Timothée Chalamet, and tennis player Naomi Osaka. Many also wore masks that coordinated with their ensembles, as those on and off the red carpet are still reeling from our current pandemic. 

Despite the clear opportunity to highlight Black-American designers, heck, even American designers, the red carpet was filled with European designers, and overall, almost entirely non-Black designers. Only a few Black designers were spotted on the carpet, to our shock. 

Edvin Thompson, Sha’Carri Richardson and Alton Mason wore Theophilio, all emulating regal royalty. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore Brother Vellies, a custom dress donning the message, “Tax the Rich.” Megan Rapinoe and Keke Palmer wore Sergio Hudson, Palmer taking inspiration from Diana Ross, Rapitoe in patriotic red and blue. Eva Chen and Jordan Alexander both wore multicolored Christopher John Rogers pieces. 

Ilana Glazer and Kehlani sported neutral and silver toned ensembles respectfully. Kerby Jean-Raymond dressed in a suit from his own Pyer Moss label. James Flemons of Phlemuns and Jeremy Pope worked together to create a cotton broadcloth sack that hung over Popes’ all white ensemble, symbolizing enslaved and exploited African Americans picking cotton. 

Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time world champion in Formula One, took it upon himself to promote burgeoning and known Black talent. Kenneth Nicholson, Edvin Thompson of Theophilio, and Jason Rembert of Aliétte are the designers he invited. Designers Theophilio and Jason Rembert, model Alton Mason, singer Kehlani, and athletes Miles Chamley-Watson and Sha’Carri Richardson were among those in attendance, in addition to Hamilton and celebrity stylist Law Roach. 


Above: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and designer Aurora James of Brother Vellies preparing for t Met Gala.

MTV’s Video Music Awards 

The 2021 MTV Video Music Awards were held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Sunday night, hosted by Doja Cat. The biggest winner of the night was Lil Nas X, who performed Industry Baby with Jack Harlow. For Montero (Call Me By Your Name), he won the awards for Best Direction, Best Visual Effects, and Video of the Year. With six dramatic fashion statements, Doja Cat kept the audience interested while hosting and singing her hit songs Been Like This and You Right. The rapper also won the Best Collaboration award for her song Kiss Me More, which she co-wrote with SZA. 

Travis Scott feat. Young Thug & M.I.A. won the Best Hip-Hop award. Best R&B and Best Editing went to Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open. Best Art Direction went to Saweetie ft. Doja Cat for Best Friend. Normani’s Wild Side performance, which was inspired by Janet Jackson, was another VMA highlight. Normani continued to pay respect to the icons of the 1990s and 2000s throughout the Y2K-themed set, which was a blast from start to end. 

Finally, Chloe Bailey performed Have Mercy alone for the first time. Her Medusa impersonation was clearly influenced by ancient and modern Greek tragedy, and her backup dancers wore Greek letters. 


Above: Emilie Kouatchou

Phantom Cast First: Christine 

The casting for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running musical on Broadway, has finally been completed. The Tony-winning musical, directed by the late Harold Prince, is set to reopen for performances at the Majestic Theatre on Oct. 22. Emilie Kouatchou, who will play Christine Daaé at select performances, will make her Broadway debut in the production. She will be the first Black actor to play Christine in the U.S. 

When Lucy St. Louis reopened the London production of Phantom as Christine last month, she became the world’s first Black performer to play the role. Ali Ewoldt, the first Asian American actress to play Christine on Broadway, had starred in the production prior to the epidemic. Masks and proof of vaccination will be required for entrance to the Majestic, as well as all Broadway venues. At the theater, you may now purchase tickets in person. 

NFL Hires First Black Officiant 

Maia Chaka is the most recent female trailblazer in the NFL. Chaka was selected to the NFL’s roster of game officials for the 2021 season on Friday, making her the first Black woman to do so in the league’s history. Chaka enters the NFL after working at the collegiate level, including stints in the Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA. 

A health and physical education teacher in the Virginia Beach public school system, Chaka joins Sarah Thomas and Shannon Eastin as the third on-field female official in the NFL and the second female full-time official, officiating in Sunday’s game between the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina. The first was Thomas, who officiated at this year’s Super Bowl. Burl Toler, the NFL’s first Black official, was hired in 1965.

-Compiled by Sumaiyah. E Wade

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