The 73rd primetime Emmy awards took place on Sunday, with the fully vaxxed in-person ceremony airing live on CBS from L.A. Live in Los Angeles.
In addition to numerous hiccups (including that staged yet still slightly awkward moment with a teleprompter and the cast of Schitt’s Creek), recognition for actors of color was also absent—prompting the hashtag #EmmysSoWhite to gain traction before Sunday night’s broadcast even ended.
Despite record nominations for actors and creatives of color, the diversity of this year’s awards ceremony was primarily expressed through its host (shoutout to Cedric the Entertainer), his opening tribute to Biz Markie, , its announcer (additional shouts out to MC “Keep a Job” Lyte), a cultural array of presenters, and commercial break music, courtesy of DJ-comedian Reggie Watts, who bumped The Staples Singers, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack???” Hmm. (The last one is a choice, for sure. But I digress.)
As you’ve probably gathered by now, most wins of the night went to shows that didn’t boast a Black or POC lead, but that didn’t stop a handful of iconic artists from making history—in fact, all of them did. In one of the biggest moments of the night, legendary choreographer, dancer, producer, director and actress Debbie Allen was recognized with the Governor’s Award, making her the first Black woman to ever receive the prestigious honor.
“Let this moment resonate with women across the world, across this country and across the world,” Allen said in part during her acceptance speech. “From Texas to Afghanistan. Let them know—and also young people who have no vote, who can’t even get a vaccine. They’re inheriting the world that we live, that we leave them. It is time for you to claim your power, claim your voice. Say your song, tell your stories. It will make us a better place. Your turn.”
Michaela Coel also made history as the first Black woman to ever win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series. She received the award for her critically acclaimed HBO series, I May Destroy You. Coel dedicated her show and her win to survivors of sexual assault, saying (h/t People):
“I just wrote a little something for writers really. Write the title that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable. I dare you in a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn fill the need to be constantly visible. For visibility these days seems to equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence. I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assaults.”
In addition to Allen and Coel, RuPaul took home yet another Emmy for Outstanding Competition program, making him the record-holding Black creative with the most Emmys ever—a whopping 11 wins, according to People. RuPaul also won for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program during last week’s Creative Arts Emmys.
“Thanks to all our lovely children on our show from around the world,” RuPaul said during his acceptance speech. “They are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life, even more difficult today. This is for you. And for you kids out there watching, you have a tribe that is waiting for you. We are waiting for you, baby! Come on to Mama Ru! Thank you so much! Thank you!”
Before I go, I’d also like to recognize The Root’s very own Emmy-nominated writer Michael Harriot for his contributions to The Amber Ruffin Show, as it was recently announced the show would be getting a second season. Congrats, fam. You’re a winner in our eyes!
To view the full list of winners, head on over to emmys.com.