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Politics, diversity dominate Emmys
2017-09-18

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The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, held Sept. 17, was historic in several ways—and, with Stephen Colbert hosting, featured a mix of humor and politics.

One of the historic developments that happened was out scribe Lena Waithe becoming the first Black woman to win the Emmy for Best Comedy Writing ( winning with Aziz Ansari for the show Master of None ). During her acceptance speech, Waithe said, "Thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer Black girl from the South Side of Chicago. Most of all, my LGBTQIA family—I see each and every one of you." Deadline reported that Waithe said backstage, "It means a lot to me to be a 'first.' What it does is it says that it's possible. I hope it opens people's eyes to give women of color a seat at the table so they can tell their story."

Lesbian actress/comedian Kate McKinnon's win was, indeed, political in nature, as she nabbed her second Emmy statue for her work ( for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series ) on Saturday Night Live—which included her dead-on impersonation as Hillary Clinton. ( Similarly, Alec Baldwin won the male version of the award for his performance as President Trump on the same program. )

Also, Netflix anthology series Black Mirror won Outstanding Television Movie for the episode "San Junipero," which features Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis as women who make a strong connection within a virtual-reality simulator. In winning, Black Mirror edged Sherlock and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, among other projects.

Hulu made history by becoming the first streaming service to take home an Outstanding Drama Series win, for The Handmaid's Tale, according to a press release from the network. Adapted from Margaret Atwood's 1985 thriller, the show won eight awards, including an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series win for Elisabeth Moss.

In other signs of diversity, This Is Us actor Sterling K. Brown became the first African-American performer in almost two decades to win lead actor in a drama. In addition, Riz Ahmed became the first Asian-American man to win an Emmy for his lead acting performance on the limited series The Night Of, which aired on HBO. Atlanta's Donald Glover became the first Black person to win an Emmy for directing for a comedy—and he also won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series award.

In a surprise move that was warmly received, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton ( the original cast of the movie 9 to 5 ) jointly appeared to present an award. Fonda and Tomlin currently co-star in the series Grace and Frankie.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus made history with her sixth consecutive Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series win for the same role: Selina Meyer on the show Veep. With her eighth Emmy overall, Louis-Dreyfus is now tied with Cloris Leachman for the most wins as a performer.

Colbert—who needles Trump constantly on his show—roasted the chief executive at the Emmys as well. At one point, Colbert said that Trump never got over not winning an Emmy for his reality show The Apprentice, stating, "Unlike the presidency, Emmys go to the winner of the popular vote." In addition, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer made a surprise appearance on a rolling podium.


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