The Black woman before her to have been nominated was Phylicia Rashad in 1986 for her role as Clair Huxtable in The Cosby Show.
Before Rashad, only three other Black women had ever been candidates for the award- Diahann Carroll (Julia), Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons), Nell Carter (Gimme a Break!). Sanford is the only one of the women to have won the award.
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“At this age, at this point in my career, to be a first-time nominee is extraordinary,” said Ross to ABC.
“To be nominated on behalf of a show that I am so proud of - I have not yet gotten married or had a baby, and this is pretty up there on the list.”
Ross, aware of the historical significance of being nominated, has given nod to all the women that came before her in a series of Instagram posts for “Woman Crush Wednesday.”
My final #Emmys #WCW is #PhyliciaRashad! Phylicia is an accomplished stage & screen actress and director. While she was first known for her work on Broadway, she is best known as the beloved #ClairHuxtable on NBC’s The Cosby Show, earning Emmy nominations in 1985 and 1986 (the last time a black woman was nominated for Best Actress Comedy Emmy). In 2004, she made history by being the first black actress to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her turn as Lena Younger in “A Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway, and won a NAACP Image Award in 2009 for playing the same role in the TV adaptation 🙌🏾
A photo posted by Tracee Ellis Ross (@traceeellisross) on Sep 7, 2016 at 12:02pm PDT
“This whole other layer of the historical aspect is mind boggling to me,” said Ross. “It adds a whole other layer to this that is extraordinary and wonderful.”