Taraji P. Henson: A look at her big win at the Critics' Choice TV Awards

Winners at the 2015 Critics' Choice TV Awards included 'The Americans,' 'Silicon Valley,' and actress Taraji P. Henson, who won the Best Actress in a Drama prize. Henson is the first black actress to do so and a black actress has still not yet won the equivalent prize at the Emmy Awards.

Danny Moloshok/Reuters
Actress Taraji P. Henson poses backstage with her award for Best Actress – Drama for her role on the series 'Empire' during the 5th Annual Critics' Choice Television Awards in Beverly Hills, California.

The Critics’ Choice TV Awards, which were given out on May 31, included a milestone for one of its acting categories. 

Taraji P. Henson of “Empire” became the first African-American actress to win the Best Actress in a Drama Series award. The Critics’ Choice TV Awards have been held since 2011, and the previous winners are Claire Danes, Julianna Margulies, and Tatiana Maslany, who has won the award twice. 

Henson thanked Fox, the network on which her TV show airs, during her acceptance speech, according to the Hollywood Reporter

“You took a risk, and that’s what art is about,” she said of the network. “I take a risk every time I take a character. And boy, did I take a risk with Cookie.”

A black actor has yet to win the Best Actor in a Drama prize, a Best Actor or Actress in a Comedy award, or the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy prize at the Critics' Choice TV Awards. In addition, a black actress has never won the Best Actress in a Drama Emmy Award, according to the website TVLine. Last year, Kerry Washington was nominated in the category for “Scandal.” 

Actress Hattie McDaniel won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the first black actress to do so, for her appearance in “Gone With the Wind,” while Sidney Poitier became the first black actor to win the Oscar for Best Actor for his work in “Lilies of the Field.” Louis Gossett, Jr. was the first black actor to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and did so for “An Officer and a Gentleman,” while Halle Berry was the first black actress to take the Best Actress prize and won it for her work in “Monster’s Ball.” 

The other actresses nominated in Henson's category at the Critics' Choice TV Awards included Vera Farmiga for “Bates Motel,” Viola Davis for “How to Get Away With Murder,” Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife,” Keri Russell for “The Americans,” and Eva Green for “Penny Dreadful.” 

Other big winners included “The Americans,” which won the best drama prize; “Silicon Valley,” which won the prize for best comedy; Bob Odenkirk, who took the best actor in a drama prize for his work in the TV series “Better Call Saul”; Jeffrey Tambor, who won the Best Actor in a Comedy award for “Transparent”; and Amy Schumer, who won the Best Actress in a Comedy prize for her show “Inside Amy Schumer.”

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