W. Kamau Bell On His Emmy Noms For Powerful Doc Series ‘We Need To Talk About Cosby,’ And Facing Barack Obama For Outstanding Narrator

In the Outstanding Narrator category Bell is classed with some extraordinary fellow contenders.
Spanning four episodes, We Need to Talk About Cosby balances two discordant themes: the comedian’s cultural impact as an African American entertainer, and the allegations from dozens of women that Cosby sexually assaulted them, accusations that stretch over a period of decades.
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“This is a tribute to the learning I've done on United Shades of America–the best place to start any interview is, How are you doing? “And then with these interviews it was like, Tell me about your life, just generally, like where were you born? Because it's about getting to know that person through the interview so that by the time you get to the stuff that is difficult, you have a relationship with that person. What's going on with you today?” he noted. What do you do for a living? And also they're more naturally telling it in a different way because they didn't sit down and have to start on that.”
Bill Cosby has called W. Kamau Bell, director of the damning documentary series We Need to Talk About Cosby, a “PR hack.” But Bell’s work on the Showtime series was validated by the Television Academy today, earning four Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.
We wanted them to tell bigger, longer versions of their stories and see them as humans outside of their time with Bill Cosby. Reacting to the nominations, Bell told Deadline, “All those survivors who trusted us by showing up to tell their stories, that's the biggest acknowledgement here. We really worked hard to make sure they didn't sound like we were ‘soundbiting’ them. And this is sort of a recognition of, we did that.”
“I'm super excited for the editors who got nominated and I'm super excited for the producers all being nominated. “This is going to sound ridiculous, it is truly an honor to be nominated amongst that group of heavy-hitting directors. For me, just the fact that my name is going to be said among that group [of directors] feels like that is truly a victory.” Like, if you had said 10 years ago to me that you and Judd Apatow are going to be up against each other in the directing category, I would have been like, ‘What happened to his career?” Bell joked.
I was making my kids lunch. “Living that parent life. Trying to figure out how many carrots I could put in the lunchbox and then, right as they all left, the [Emmy] news started to come through.”” /> “I was doing what I do most mornings. I was fighting with my four-year-old to get her shoes on her feet so she can go to pre-school,” he said.
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He was on dad duty this morning before the Emmy nominations were announced. Helping to keep him grounded amid all that success are his parenting responsibilities to two young children. With today’s nominations, Bell brings his career Emmy nomination total to 10, with three victories.
Kamau Bell, took a sensitive approach to speaking with his subjects, to avoid as much as possible the risk of retraumatizing them. Bell, the Emmy-winning host of United Shades of America with W. The series was shot during Covid, which meant doing interviews mostly over Zoom.
“I'm up against Lupita Nyong'o, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sir David Attenborough and Barack Obama. “I'm just going to be glad to have a seat and to hear my name announced among those people.” How am I going to be like, 'I hope I win!'” he laughed. I mean, come on.
Like Poehler and Apatow, Bell’s background is in comedy, and he first gained recognition as a standup. The directing category puts him up against, among others, Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio, directors of George Carlin’s American Dream, and Amy Poehler, director of Lucy and Desi. The series is nominated for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program, and Bell is nominated individually for directing and as Outstanding Narrator.

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