Still from Unorthodox, co-created by Anna Winger '93, image courtesy of 'The New York Times'

Eight Projects Involving Columbia Filmmakers Nominated for 2020 Emmy Awards

BY Felix van Kann, July 31, 2020

Unorthodox, a Netflix Original show created by undergraduate alumna Anna Winger '93, received a total of eight nominations, including the Outstanding Limited Series category as well as the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series and the Outstanding Writing In A Limited Series categories.


A 4-part series, Unorthodox is loosely based on Deborah Feldman's 2012 memoir Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic RootsUnorthodox is the story of a woman’s escape from a suffocating religious community. In the show we follow Esty, a 19-year-old Jewish woman, who runs away from her arranged marriage and her community of Satmar Hasidic Jews.


Unbelievable, a show alumna Lisa Cholodenko ’97 directed three episodes of, was also nominated in the Outstanding Limited Series category. Among its other three nominations is one for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series section. 


The eight-episode series is an adaptation of an article, An Unbelievable Story of Rape, which tells the story of two detectives seeking to connect the plight of a Washington teenager forced to recant her accusation of rape and a series of rapes in Colorado.


The Hulu Original show Little Fires Everywhere, co-written and co-executive produced by film alumna Amy Talkington '99 was also nominated in the Outstanding Limited Series category. By taking home additional nominations in categories like Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series and Outstanding Directing For A Limited Series the show can hope for a total of five awards. 


Based on the book of the same title by Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere tells the story of Elena Richardson, a woman who thrives on structure and rules, and her family. When Mia Warren, an artist who has been living a nomadic lifestyle as a single mother with her daughter, Pearl, arrives in town, it threatens everything that Mrs. Richardson has known. 


Insecure, a comedy for which alumna Grace Edwards '10 recently wrote an episode, is nominated for eight Emmys including Outstanding Comedy Series. Among others, the show is also represented in the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series and the Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series. 


Insecure follows the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman. It has recently been renewed for an upcoming fifth season. 


The Mandalorian, the Disney+ show for which alumna Deborah Chow '03 directed two episodes, received 15 nominations in 13 categories. The nominations include Outstanding Drama Series as well as the Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series and twice in the Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series, among others. Chow was the first woman to direct in the Star Wars universe.  


The Mandalorian follows the travels of a lone bounty hunter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic. 


Becoming, a Netflix documentary about former first lady Michelle Obama for which associate professor Maureen Ryan served as a co-producer, alumna and adjunct assistant professor Veronica Nickel ’10 as production supervisor, alumnus and adjunct assistant professor Jamund Washington ’10 as line producer, alumnus Kevin Contento ’18 as a production assistant, former Professor Marilyn Ness as the film’s producer, and former Professor Rick Siegel as the lighting designer, was nominated for four awards. It competes in the categories Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special and Outstanding Directing For A Documentary, among others.


Becoming was announced as a surprise in late April and counts as the third title to come out of the production deal between Netflix and the Obamas. The documentary of the eponymous title as Michelle Obama’s memoir, tracks her traveling the country in late 2018 and early 2019 during the book tour. The film features interviews with Obama, her mother Marian Shields Robinson, her brother Craig Robinson and others.

Acting alumnus Matt Hurley ’12 worked as an actor on two Emmy nominated shows, Succession (18 nominations) and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (20 nominations), respectively. He played Peter in Succession’s third episode of Season 2 called “Hunters” and played the role of Howard in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s third episode of Season 3, titled “Panty Pose.” The former show participates in the Outstanding Casting For A Drama Series, among others, while the latter show edged a nomination in the Outstanding Casting For A Comedy Series category. 


In total, the shows with Columbia filmmakers involved received 78 nominations at the world’s most renowned awards in TV. The Emmy awards ceremony, which will be moderated by Jimmy Kimmel, will be held on September 20, 2020.