The 2019 Emmy Nominees Include 28 People With Illnesses and Disabilities
On Tuesday, actors D’arcy Carden and Ken Jeong announced the nominations for the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards. The Emmys recognize excellence in the television industry, honoring many of the stars and shows that grace our screens — be it on TV, laptop, tablet or phone.
While all of the nominated actors were recognized by the Emmys for their outstanding onscreen performances, many of the individuals on the list also deserve to be recognized for speaking up and raising awareness of the various health conditions, illnesses and disabilities they live with.
By opening up about the health challenges they face, these actors can use their platform to help break down stigmas, fund research and new treatments, and contribute to a better understanding of various health conditions.
Below, discover 28 of the 2019 Emmy nominees who live with illnesses and disabilities.
1. Emilia Clarke
Emilia Clarke was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Daenarys Targaryen on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” While filming earlier seasons of “Thrones,” however, Clarke experienced two brain aneurysms, which she revealed in a March 2019 essay in The New Yorker.
The actress described the dark thoughts she struggled with following her aneurysms, as she dealt with difficult symptoms such as aphasia, pain, fatigue and anxiety. After several years, she healed “beyond [her] most unreasonable hopes” and is now back to feeling 100%.
2. Viola Davis
“How to Get Away With Murder” actress Viola Davis is pre-diabetic, and has two sisters, a great aunt and grandmother with diabetes. Davis recently narrated the documentary “A Touch of Sugar,” which shares the stories of people coping with diabetes and busts the misconceptions that often surround diabetes. She earned an Emmy nomination this year for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.
3. Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant may be a famous face, but he stepped out of the spotlight for several years due to severe anxiety and panic attacks that began while filming “Notting Hill” in 1999. “I have this absurd syndrome where I get these out-of-the-blue pathetic panic attacks,” Grant told Entertainment Weekly. “It’ll be in a very easy, simple scene when everything is going swimmingly, and then suddenly, bang, I’m shvitzing and can’t remember my lines.”
The actor returned to the big screen in 2016 for “Florence Foster Jenkins,” and is nominated this year for his leading role in “A Very English Scandal.”
4. Sandra Oh
Actress Sandra Oh, who received two nominations for her work on “Killing Eve” and “Saturday Night Live,” has struggled with various autoimmune issues, including eczema, asthma and allergies. She said the inflammation from these conditions greatly affected her skin, especially on her face. While filming the third season of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Oh was sick from exhaustion and stress, which caused her skin to flare up.
5. Mandy Moore
“This Is Us” actress Mandy Moore has not shied away from sharing the food intolerances and dietary restrictions she has struggled with over the years. In October 2017, she posted photos on her Instagram story of herself undergoing an endoscopy to test for celiac disease. In April 2019, she shared a variety of test results revealing which foods she’s sensitive to. She is nominated for an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.
6. Anthony Anderson
If you’re a fan of the ABC comedy show “Black-ish,” you may remember that main character Dre Johnson (played by Anthony Anderson) was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2D) in the ninth episode of the fourth season. This plot was inspired by Anderson’s own experiences with T2D, having been diagnosed in 2001. He received an Emmy nod for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series.
7. Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas was nominated for an Emmy for his leading role in the comedy series “The Kominsky Method.” The actor was diagnosed with stage 4 oral cancer in 2010 and underwent several rounds of intensive radiation and chemotherapy. He has since made a full recovery.
8. Bill Hader
During his years on “Saturday Night Live,” Bill Hader struggled frequently with anxiety and panic attacks. He said he would often hyperventilate backstage. “I love the people there, but doing that show was really hard for me,” he explained to ABC. “It was this funny thing of being trapped by this thing that was hurting you.”
Hader is now nominated for his starring role on the comedy series “Barry.”
9. Christina Applegate
Actress Christina Applegate, nominated for her lead role in “Dead to Me,” underwent a double mastectomy in 2008 after being diagnosed with cancer in one breast. The double mastectomy was a preventative measure, as Applegate tested positive for the breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA, and her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer as well.
10. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced she was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2017, and proceeded with treatment, including six rounds of chemotherapy. Almost a year later, she returned to work to film the final season of “Veep,” for which she is now nominated for an Emmy. Louis-Dreyfus is now cancer-free.
11. Catherine O’Hara
Catherine O’Hara has a rare medical condition called dextrocardia with situs inversus, in which the heart points toward the right side of the chest, rather than the left (which is typical), and her major organs are reversed or mirrored in their positions. O’Hara is nominated for her leading role in “Schitt’s Creek.”
12. Anthony Carrigan
At 3 years old, Anthony Carrigan was diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. Though he experienced only small patches of hair loss growing up, he explained he began losing all his hair early in his acting career. The actor, nominated for his supporting role in “Barry,” now embraces his alopecia as what makes him unique.
13. Tony Hale
Tony Hale is known for his roles as Buster Bluth on “Arrested Development” and Gary Walsh on “Veep,” the latter of which earned him an Emmy nomination this year. Both characters are quite anxious, and Hale said it’s not a coincidence. “There’s a reason why I do anxious characters,” he explained to NPR. “It comes from a lot of personal anxiety!” The actor said he uses prayer and meditation to cope and help him live in the moment.
14. Henry Winkler
An outspoken advocate for dyslexia awareness, Henry Winkler has struggled with the condition throughout his life. He had a lot of difficulty reading as a child and said he was often teased by other children. In addition to his acting career, Winkler co-authored a series of books about a dyslexic boy named Hank Zipzer — inspired by Winkler’s own experiences with dyslexia. He is nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series for “Barry,” the same category he won at last year’s Emmys.
15. Peter Dinklage
“Game of Thrones” actor Peter Dinklage, known for his eight-season portrayal of Tyrion Lannister, has achondroplasia, a common form of dwarfism. Like his character on “Thrones,” Dinklage grew up as the only person in his family with dwarfism. He earned an Emmy nod for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series, which he won last year.
16. Alex Borstein
Actress Alex Borstein, nominated for her supporting role on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” is a carrier of the hemophilia gene and a fierce advocate for the condition. Hemophilia is a rare disorder in which the blood doesn’t clot normally and can lead to excessive bleeding after an injury. Borstein works with the National Hemophilia Foundation to raise awareness, partnering with them for projects such as a comedy show called “What’s So Bloody Funny?”
17. Lena Headey
Lena Headey, perhaps better known as Cersei Lannister from “Game of Thrones,” has spoken about the various mental health issues she’s faced over the years. She talked with fans on Twitter about her experiences with anxiety and depression, writing, “I overthink for sure. I am familiar with depression. I get HUGE anxiety.” She also struggled with postpartum depression while filming the first season of “Thrones,” though she didn’t realize it initially.
18. Sophie Turner
Sophie Turner is open about her struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. She spoke to Dr. Phil in April 2019 about the mental health challenges she faced growing up, saying she used to think about suicide a lot when she was younger. Turner, who’s been nominated for her role as Sansa Stark on “Game of Thrones,” said she’s feeling better mental health-wise these days. She credits her relationship with Jonas Brothers singer, Joe Jonas, with helping her love herself.
19. Maisie Williams
Maisie Williams, nominated for playing Arya Stark on “Game of Thrones,” struggled with self-hatred issues primarily due to hurtful comments she’s read online. “I went through a huge period of my life where I’d tell myself every day that I hated myself,” she said in an interview. This led her to experience racing thoughts, which had an impact on her mental health.
20. John Mulaney
Comedian John Mulaney has dealt with anxiety and panic attacks over the years, especially in regards to his work. He said he experienced a lot of feelings of self-doubt and anxiety while traveling on his stand-up tour, fearing everyone hated him and his career would be over after each show. Mulaney, nominated this year for his work on “Saturday Night Live,” turned to meditation and exercise to cope.
21. Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2003 after a routine check-up. Fortunately, the prognosis was good because the cancer was caught early, and De Niro made a full recovery within a few months. He has been nominated this year for his work on “Saturday Night Live.”
22. Kristin Scott Thomas
Nominated for her part as a guest actress in “Fleabag,” Kristin Scott Thomas has years of experience in front of a camera — but she’s no stranger to depression, either. The actress struggled with her mental health as a young adult, but said she’s largely recovered now. “Years and years of psychoanalysis helped of course. But partly I think it is growing older, growing up,” she explained.
23. Jane Lynch
A lesser-known fact about actress Jane Lynch, who was nominated for her guest role on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” is that she is deaf in one ear. She first realized it when she was 7 years old and the doctor explained she had nerve deafness, likely from a high fever when she was a baby.
24. Emma Thompson
British actress Emma Thompson is open about her struggles with depression and how painful and debilitating the condition can be. She described experiencing voices in her head — “the constant ‘must do better,’ ‘must try harder’ plus ‘you’re too fat and not really a very good mother.’” She continues to speak up about depression because she believes it’s a “hidden” condition not enough people talk about. The actress is nominated for her performance on “Saturday Night Live.”
25. Asante Blackk
Asante Blackk plays Kevin Richardson in “When They See Us,” a miniseries about the Central Park Five teens wrongfully convicted of rape. According to his parents, Blackk was born with sickle cell anemia, an inherited condition where the red blood cells in the body are crescent moon-shaped instead of round. Those cells die quickly and cause a blockage in the body. Ten years later, his parents shared a blog post stating Blackk needed a bone marrow transplant, but there has not been another update since. Blackk earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie.
26. Cherry Jones
Actress Cherry Jones lives with epilepsy, but didn’t know she had a seizure disorder until she was an adult. In an interview with The New York Times, Jones explained she was onstage in the middle of a performance of “Doubt” when she “blanked” and suddenly couldn’t remember any of her lines. “I thought it was some kind of crazy panic attack,” she said. Fortunately the actress, nominated for her work in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” hasn’t had another episode since starting on medication.
27. Laverne Cox
Actress and transgender advocate Laverne Cox has revealed she’s experienced suicidal thoughts in order to shed light on the mental health consequences of being misgendered. When transgender people are murdered, often the police incorrectly identify them as their “deadname” — referring to the individual as the name and gender they used before transitioning.
Cox explained in a tweet why this can be hurtful and damaging to the trans community, and shared when she was struggling with suicidal thoughts, she carried a note correctly identifying her name and gender so she would not be misgendered in case of her death.
28. Jessica Lange
A guest star on “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” Jessica Lange said she struggled with depression regularly until she had children. “I had really tremendous mood swings, and still do,” Lange told Closer Weekly. “Though my dark side is dormant right now, it continues to play a big role in whatever capacity I have to be creative.”
The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.