‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ may have been, statistically-speaking, the big winner at the Emmys on Sunday (17 September) night, but elsewhere on the winners’ list, Riz Ahmed and Lena Waithe led a host of stars making history with their accolades.
Hollywood and diversity aren’t always two words that go together, but in the world of American TV, progress is being made.
By winning the Best Actor in a Limited Series, Riz became the first male Asian star to ever take home an Emmy for acting, but in his speech he was keen to emphasise that there’s still work to be done.
He said: “I don’t know if any one person’s win changes something that’s a systemic issue of inclusion.
“In this industry, that’s something that happens slowly over time.”
The episode told the story of Lena’s character, Denise, coming out to her family and was based on the actress’s own experiences.
Her speech was one of the highlights of the night and after thanking her co-star and co-writer, the series creator Aziz Ansari, Lena turned her attention to “ my LGBTQIA family”.
“I see each and every one of you,” she said. “The things that make us different, those are our superpowers - every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.
“And for everybody out there that showed so much love for this episode, thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the South Side of Chicago. We appreciate it more than you could ever know.”
The evening also saw Donald Glover make history when he was named winner of the Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series category for ‘Atlanta’, making him the first black man to do so.
Sterling K. Brown became the first black actor in almost 20 years to win a Lead Actor prize, for his work in ‘The Is Us’.
Speaking backstage, the star - who won Best Supporting Actor for ‘The People vs. OJ Simpson’ in 2016 - admitted it “felt big” due to the 19 years between Andre Braugher’s win and his.
“And to be standing here 19 years after him, I just want to represent,” he said. “I don’t want to be a flash in the pan. I love what I do so much.
“I feel like I have a thousand different people living inside of me, and I am just looking for an opportunity to let them all out.”