In a “can’t believe it really took this long” moment, ATLANTA’s Donald Glover took home the award for Best Directing a Comedy Series at the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards, becoming the very first black director to win in the category.
Not satisfied with making history, Glover took the opportunity to share the moment with his Atlanta collaborator and frequent director Hiro Murai.
“This really beyonds to Hiro Murai,” Glover said on stage. “He taught me everything about directing. He had the eye for this show and he’s just amazing. I really want to give this to Hiro and just say ‘I love you and thank you for being my best friend.'”
Lena Waithe also became the very first black woman to win Best Writing in a Comedy Series, for the semi-autobiographical episode “Thanksgiving” of MASTER OF NONE, which she co-wrote with showrunner Aziz Ansari.
Like Glover, Waithe also used her time to shout out others, specifically her “LGBTQIA family.”
“I see each and every one of you,” she said onstage. “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.”
Diversity was a huge theme of the night, with Television Academy Chairman Hayma Washigton even taking the stage to discuss the industry’s efforts to be more inclusive on all levels, including hiring more people of color, tell more LGBT stories and include more opportunities for disabled people.
Later in the evening, Riz Ahmed won Best Actor for HBO limited series The Night Of, joining only one other actor of Asian descent to win an Emmy in the history of the awards.
Up until Sunday night, Archie Punjabi remained the only Asian actor to have the statue, winning it for The Good Wife in 2010.
“Most of the roles I was ever offered and did play were so relevant to my ethnicity, and I’m very grateful for those opportunities. But I’ve always believed that I’d like to play a role where my ethnicity isn’t the most important thing,” she said in the press room after her win at the time. “So to be given this opportunity to play such an interesting character where, up until now, we haven’t even mentioned her ethnicity, is a dream come true … I think it’s the way it should be for young people, to watch TV where the characters are from different backgrounds … but it’s not all about their race and background.”
Glover went on to also win Best Actor in a Comedy Series, becoming the first non-white actor to take home the Emmy in more than 30 years.
So on a night focused so much on diversity, a good reminder that we still have much longer ways to go.
Linda Ge | TV Editor