‘Mangrove’ actor Nathaniel Martello-White disappointed at ‘Small Axe’ Emmys snub

"For me, the pride in 'Mangrove', of what we did, goes beyond any award”

Mangrove star Nathaniel Martello-White has spoken of his surprise that Steve McQueen‘s Small Axe series only managed to pick up one Emmy nomination.

“It was disappointing,” he said during an interview with NME.

“It’s hard, isn’t it? Awards are great and awards help, but I try not to get too caught up in that because sometimes things win and you’re like ‘How did that win? This other movie was way better!’”

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The 38-year-old British actor starred opposite Letitia Wright and Shaun Parkes in Mangrove – the true story of the arrest and trial of the Mangrove Nine, a group of Black activists who made legal history in the ’70s by exposing the reality of police racism.

Nathaniel Martello-White
Nathaniel Martello-White attends a red carpet event in 2017. CREDIT: Alamy

Telling the story of Frank Crichlow – a Trinidadian immigrant who opened the Mangrove restaurant in Notting Hill in the 1960s – Mangrove offers a shocking depiction of systemic racism and police corruption in the UK.

Written and directed by Steve McQueen, it’s one of the lesser-known stories in Black British history. And it also gave Martello-White the chance to work with a visionary director.

“It was incredibly intimidating,” he said. “It’s very rare that you get to work with your hero.”

“But you know what, ultimately, it just felt like it was such an important project to be on, even that was bigger than Steve. What the moment meant – it was bigger than all of us and I think we all felt like we were in service of these untold moments of British history that had gone under the carpet.”

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“I was really, really proud to have been a part of it.”

Despite widespread critical acclaim, Small Axe was nominated for just one Primetime Emmy Award – Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.

But many critics feel that the series was unfairly snubbed.

“Steve McQueen’s five-part Small Axe anthology was entirely shut out by the Emmys,” said critic Isaac Feldberg via Twitter. “One of the most impressive achievements in either film or television this past year, in terms of its staggering scope and artistry as well as the towering performances of its actors. A must-watch.”

“Two Black series — Small Axe and The Underground Railroad — treated Black people as three-dimensional humans,” said critic Robert Daniels via Twitter. “And the Emmys gave them dust.”

One major criticism is the lack of nomination for writer and director, Steve McQueen.

Additionally, many critics felt that Letitia Wright was also deserving of a nod for Best Supporting Actress.

“It’s disappointing,” added Martello-White. “But for me, the pride in Mangrove, of what we did, goes beyond any award.”

Nathaniel Martello-White will next star in Deceit – a Channel 4 drama based on the true story of the murder of Rachel Nickell. The series premieres on August 13 at 9pm.

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