How Kelly Jenrette and Melvin Jackson Jr. Made Emmy History

Meet the first black couple to both be nominated for Emmys in the same year.

At left, Kelly Jenrette on "The Handmaid's Tale." At right, Jackson on the Emmy campaign trail. Photo: Hulu.

Welcome back to The Scene, a podcast from the CFR on film, TV and theater. Today my guests are Kelly Jenrette and Melvin Jackson Jr., two actors both nominated for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards. They have also made history by being the first Black couple to both be nominated for Emmys in the same year.

Jenrette is nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Annie on The Handmaid’s Tale. Among her other credits are roles in Grandfathered, Frisky Dingo, Graves and Jinn.

Jackson is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series, for his role in This Eddie Murphy Role is Mine, Not Yours, which he created and co-wrote with Jenrette. He has also appeared on The New Edition Story, Everybody Hates Chris and The Wire, among many others.

In our conversation, Jenrette and Jackson discuss what it’s like to find out you’re nominated for an Emmy — always a nice thing, to be sure. They also offer an insider’s look at how the submission process works, and how, in Jackson’s case, the campaign process turns out to be a lot like running for public office. They also describe what its like to have a spouse as a collaborator, and how their faith keeps them grounded in the often unpredictable industries of film and TV. (The Emmys will air on Sept. 17.)

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