Every September the Television Academy honors television’s finest writers, actors, producers and creative extraordinaires at its annual Primetime Emmy Awards. This year’s 69th Primetime Emmy Awards hosted by Stephen Colbert did not fall short of memorable moments. Below is a list of my top five favorites from the eventful night.
WHEN ISSA RAE SAID WHAT WE WERE ALL THINKING
Let me just say, I am so overjoyed to live in a time where I can witness one of my favorite comedic creatives publicly declare her love and admiration for black talent unapologetically. One of the most talked about moments of the night occurred even before the award show began on the red carpet when a Variety reporter asked the Insecure star who she was rooting for. Rae did not hesitate to candidly announce, “I’m rooting for everybody black.”
THE NINE TO FIVE REUNION
If you are a fan of 1980s film Nine to Five like me, simply seeing Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin reunited is enough to put a smile on your face, but these legends gave fans another reason to smile when they took a stand against prejudice and bigotry before presenting the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. Fonda stated “In 1980, we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot boss.” Tomlin later declared, “And in 2017 we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot!”
THREE HISTORIC FIRSTS
Unfortunately, today people are still given the title of first, but nevertheless it was truly magical to watch deserving talent receive recognition. Donald Glover won the Emmy for directing an episode of his FX show Atlanta titled “B.A.N.” Glover is the first black director to win an Emmy for a comedy series. Glover also took home an Emmy for best actor in a comedy series; the first black actor to win in 32 years. Robert Guillaume was awarded said acting Emmy back in 1985 for his role in Benson.
Lena Waithe and Aziz Ansari won an Emmy for writing the Netflix comedy Master of None’s “Thanksgiving” episode. Waithe is the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing. Television writers rarely receive applause when they win let alone a standing ovation, but Waithe and Ansari received a standing ovation when their names were announced the winners.
Riz Ahmed was the first Muslim and South Asian actor to win an acting Emmy for his role in HBO’s The Night Of. Ahmed did not let a moment of his speech go to waste. He shined a light on the prejudices, phobias and injustices in our society. Ahmed also gave a shout out to the South Asian Youth Action and The Innocence Project.
BLESSED BY CICELY TYSON & ANIKA NONI ROSE’S PRESENCE
The legendary Cicely Tyson who starred in 1977 television classic Roots and Anika Noni Rose who starred in the 2016 remake graced the Emmy stage to pay homage to the series and present the award for Outstanding Limited Series. While presenting Tyson briefly paused, stating she was nervous. The ever-so beautiful and kind Anika Noni Rose leaned over and gave Ms. Tyson words of encouragement. Witnessing such a genuinely touching moment gave viewers a wondrous dose of black girl magic.
STERLING K. BROWN’S SPEECH IS SNUBBED
Sterling K. Brown who took home an Emmy last year for his role in The People Vs. OJ was awarded his second Emmy for his role in NBC’s drama This is US. The Emmys’ are known for rudely cutting off everyone except well-known white actresses. To Brown’s disfortune, he was subject to said rudeness and did not receive the same courtesy extended to Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. However, Brown was able to finish his heartfelt speech backstage.