Project 21 Black Leadership Network asked the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to rescind Tina Fey's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor because the comedian recently asked NBCUniversal to have episodes of “30 Rock” featuring characters using blackface removed from streaming platforms.
“We are not trying to cancel Tina Fey. Tina Fey cancelled herself when she asked Hulu to purge offensive episodes of ‘30 Rock,’ calling the fruits of her creativity ‘ugliness,’” Project 21 member Horace Cooper wrote. “We are simply alerting the Kennedy Center -- which has acted in the past to protect itself and the integrity of the Twain Prize -- to do so again in light of Tina Fey’s admission.”
Per Deadline, Fey -- who was the "30 Rock" creator/executive producer/showrunner -- and co-showrunner, Robert Carlock, made the request for NBC to remove the episodes featuring blackface.
Project 21 asked the John F. Kennedy Center to rescind the Mark Twain Prize awarded to Tina Fey. (NBC)
“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation,” Fey said in a statement obtained by Deadline on Monday. “I understand now that ‘intent; is not a free pass for white people to use these images... I apologize for [the] pain they have caused."
But Fey's apology has not been enough for critics, including Project 21.
The co-chairmen of Project 21 made their request to the Kennedy Center in a letter that was delivered on Friday. The letter claimed the group does not seek to “cancel” Fey for the sake of political correctness or even “end her entertainment career,” but urged the Kennedy Center to “preserve the integrity” of the Twain Prize.
The Kennedy Center did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The letter echoed a recent piece published Tuesday by The Daily Beast headlined,” Tina Fey’s Problems With Race Extend Far Beyond ‘30 Rock’s’ Blackface,” that detailed multiple claims of the comedian walking a “tightrope between satirizing racial stereotypes and simply replicating them.”
Project 21 even cited The Daily Beast article when listing other examples from Fey’s work that are under fire.
“30 Rock’s two primary black characters are dueling racial tropes -- the lazy, over-the-top Black man, as represented by the eccentric Tracy Jordan, and the educated and ‘well-spoken’ James Spurlock, known to his NBC family as ‘Toofer’ because he is both Black and went to Harvard. At times, the show uses this false dichotomy to comment on the way Black men are seen by white people and portrayed in white media. But often, these stereotypes are simply used for laughs,” Daily Beast entertainment reporter Laura Bradley wrote.
The Daily Beast reporter also touched on Fey’s more recent show, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which, she wrote, is equally flawed.
“Quite frankly, Ms. Fey’s receipt of the prize in 2010 put her in a class of comedians to which she was, and often still is, inferior,” the Project 21 letter stated. “It is our conclusion that the Kennedy Center has not received a proper return on its ill-advised investment in Ms. Fey over the past decade. Given this current controversy, it would be best for the Kennedy Center to rescind her award.”
Project 21 then asked the Kennedy Center to “make an immediate public statement” announcing Fey will be stripped of the coveted prize.
A rep for Fey did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
"30 Rock" starred Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer. (Mary Ellen Mathew/NBCU Photo Bank
Project 21 is described as “an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research to promote the views of African-Americans whose entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to family and commitment to individual responsibility have not traditionally been echoed by the nation’s civil rights establishment.”
“30 Rock” aired on NBC from October 2006 to January 2013, scoring 16 Emmys, including three consecutive wins for comedy series. The show also landed seven Golden Globes, 22 guild awards among SAG, WGA, DGA and PGA; as well as Image, Peabody and AFI Awards. The series is also the record-holder for most Emmy nominations in one season for any comedy series, and received a total of 103 Emmy nominations over seven seasons on NBC.
Fox News’ Julius Young contributed to this report.