WASHINGTON — Actor and writer Anthony Anderson is finally getting his flowers.
“None of us thought we even had a chance of getting nominated. But it turns out Anacostia broke through,” said Anderson.
The D.C. native is nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding actor in a short form comedy or drama series.
“I was in disbelief. I was shaking. I was crying. I could barely answer the phone as people were calling,” Anderson said visibly reliving the moment. “It felt like all the work, all the struggle, hearing all the Nos. It felt like all of it was worth it.”
Anderson is up against other actors like Golden Globe nominee Brendan Gleeson, Tim Robinson, and Ikechukwu Ufomadu. All three have worked on major projects in Hollywood. Anderson’s resume centers around his web series Anacostia which he has been producing for 13 years, with limited funds but plenty of passion.
“We are self-funded. So, we don’t have a studio or any really big financial backers behind us,” he said. “So, everything that we do is out of pocket or on a barter system really.”
The cast also volunteers their time; many of whom return season-to-season to star in the locally produced show. Over the years, Anacostia has generated thousands of views on YouTube as it chronicles a group of friends east of the river dealing with love, loss and the complexities of relationships.
“The show is important to me because I didn’t see faces that look like mine on television. And the faces that were there, were either stereotypical or just weren’t anyone that I recognized,” said Anderson who not only created the series but plays the role of Sean. “So, what I wanted to do was create a show that dealt with real life, real characters, real people.”
The show has wracked a long list of awards and nominations. In 2017, Anderson was nominated for a Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Digital Daytime Drama Series. With both a Daytime and now a Primetime Emmy nomination for the same show, Anderson finds himself in a league all his own.
Win or lose, the actor says he's committed to producing content in his hometown, reflective of the people he's encountered growing up in Southeast D.C.
“The great thing this nomination does, is it put eyes that wouldn’t normally know about the show. It puts those eyes on the show. That’s all we really wanted was to be seen. That’s all that any independent artist wants,” he said. “We just want to be seen and I feel like now we’re starting to be seen.”
The Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 12.