The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards honored the best in television this last year and is already being recognized as one of the most diverse and inclusive editions of the awards. The event was hosted by a witty Stephen Colbert, who seized the opportunity to mock President Donald Trump on several occasions.
The Emmy’s were packed with “first ones” – for the first time, a black woman, Lena Waithe, won an Emmy for comedy writing, while Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim and South-Asian actor to win an acting Emmy.
Women in general also had a fantastic night, with the Academy recognizing series like Big Little Lies, which features an all-star cast of female actresses.
African American woman becomes first to win Emmy for comedy writing
Waithe made Emmy’s history last night when she became the first black woman to win for comedy writing, for her work in the “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None. She took the stage with series creator and actor Aziz Ansari.
In a moving acceptance speech, Waithe, who is gay, acknowledged her “LGBTQIA family” and thanked fans of the show for embracing “a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the South Side of Chicago.”
“The things that make us different, those are our superpowers,” said a moved Waithe. “Every day you put on your cape, you go out and conquer the world, because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.”
Later on the evening, Sterling K. Brown won an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series, for his role in This is Us. Brown said he was honored to receive the same award Andre Braugher won for “Homicide” in 1998, the last time a black actor won the Emmy.
He thanked his cast and said they were “the best white TV family that a brother has ever had, better than the white folks who raised Webster.” The “This is Us” star was cut short by the show producers before he finished his acceptance speech.
After the show, in the press room, the star was able to complete his speech and thanked the writers, producers, and directors of the show, before praising his wife and two sons, whom he said he loves “with the strength of a thousand suns,” according to People.
Sean Spicer made surprise appearance on last night’s Emmy’s
“Atlanta” executive producer and actor Donald Glover also had his “first-time” Emmy, as he became the first African American to win the award for outstanding directing for a comedy series. That wasn’t his only win of the night, though, as he also took home the Emmy for lead actor in a comedy series. The rapper, writer, director, and actor thanked everyone who worked on “Atlanta,” and shouted out to his unborn baby.
Meanwhile, Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim to win an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a limited series, for his remarkable role in “The Night Of,” where he plays a Pakistani-American jailed for murder.
Ahmed, who is British and Pakistani, thanked South Asian Youth Action and the Innocence Project for helping him prepare for the role. He also seized the opportunity to address the nature of his character’s storyline.
“I want to say it is always strange reaping the rewards of a story that’s based on real world suffering, but if this show has shown a light on some of the prejudice in our societies, Islamophobia, some of the injustice in our justice system, then maybe that is something,” he said.
Politics were very much present at the Emmy’s, with one of the most shocking moments occurring when former U.S. press secretary Sean Spicer took the stage during Colbert’s presentation, while an embarrassed Melissa McCarthy –who portrayed Spicer numerous times on Saturday Night Live—smiled timidly at the skit.
Then, another political moment came when Alec Baldwin received an Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy, for his portrayal of President Donald Trump on SNL. He even joked about Trump finally receiving an Emmy, something the president has long said he deserved for “The Apprentice.”
‘9 to 5’ stars took stance against sexism and bigotry
The work of women in Hollywood was widely celebrated last night. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which depicts a dystopian future where women are seen as objects, won the Emmy for best drama series. Meanwhile, “Big Little Lies,” which also revolves around society’s treatment of women, received an Emmy for best-limited series or movie.
Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman –who also won an Emmy for her role on the show—took the stage to praise women and to stress the need for women to get good and worthy roles on TV and movies. Witherspoon noted it was an incredible year for women on television.
One of the highlights of the night came when Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton presented the award for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie – which went to “Big Little Lies” star Alexander Skarsgard.
The three actresses, who starred in the classic 1980 film “9 to 5” compared the premise of their movie with what is still happening in the world.
“Back in 1980, in that movie we refused to be controlled by a ‘sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot,” said Fonda, quoting her character from “9 to 5.” “And in 2017, we still refuse to be controlled by a ‘sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot’,” concluded Tomlin.