There were historic wins for African-American stars and writers at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards. The annual awards ceremony also seemed more diverse in terms of its attendees.
Oprah Winfrey sat front and center. And Issa Rae, a vision in red, was a presenter. On the red carpet, Rae, whose Insecure show was snubbed, said candidly, “Im rooting for everybody black.I am!” Before he presented an award with fellow comedian Melissa McCarthy, Dave Chappelle noted, “I am truly amazed how black people are here. I counted 11 on the monitor,” he said. Chappelle also admitted that he skipped rehearsal and said, “Please forgive me. Shout out to DC Public Schools.” When John Oliver and his Last Week Tonight with John Oliver writers won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series, the cheeky comic also gave an unexpected nod to the DC public school system, helping the hashtag #DCPublicSchools go viral.
Atlanta creator Donald Glover won an Emmy for Outstanding Director for a Comedy Series, for his subversive “B.A.N.” episode, making him the first African-American to receive that honor. Glover also walked away with the comedy lead actor trophy for his role on the show. During his acceptance speech for the latter award, the former 30 Rock scribe and Community co-star jokingly gave a shout-out to President Donald Trump. “I want to thank Trump for making black people number one on the most-oppressed list,” he said. “He’s probably the reason I’m up here.”
According to NBC, backstage Glover said he was humbled by the recognition for his work and the breakthroughs that his wins represent. “It feels like a dream,” the NYU graduate said. “I don’t want to make the best indie movie; I want to make the best movie. I don’t believe in labels like that. I’m glad I made history, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. I believe people deserve quality.”
In another historic moment, Lena Waithe became the first African-American woman to win for comedy writing for the “Thanksgiving” episode of Aziz Ansari’s series, Master of None. Waithe has also had a recurring role on the Netflix comedy. The episode was based on her experience of coming out as a lesbian.
Sterling K. Brown won an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for NBC’s hit series, This Is Us.
And Chappelle won his first Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Saturday Night Live. Deadline reports Chappelle’s controversial, post-election guest host appearance delivered the franchise’s season high in adults 18-49 and total viewers, and the show’s highest 18-49 rating since 2013.