While every Emmy win is noteworthy, several this year were downright historical.
Take Atlanta auteur Donald Glover, who early in Sunday night’s ceremony became the first black person to win an Emmy for directing for a comedy. Ever. And this was the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony. (Later in the night, Glover claimed a second prize, for lead comedy actor.)
“I’m glad I was able to make history, but that’s not what I was trying to do. I’m trying to make the best product,” Glover said backstage after winning. “I believe the people deserve quality, and when they taste it, they see their own values and they don’t ask for less. So I just want to make a really good show I admire.”
Similarly, Lena Waithe, who with series lead Aziz Ansari co-wrote Master of None‘s “Thanksgiving” episode (which she also co-starred in), made Emmy history as the first black woman to win for comedy writing. “It means a lot to me,” she shared backstage after. “What it does is it says that it’s possible. I hope there are other women of color who now have an opportunity, because this door has been opened.”
Among other first-timers, The Night Of‘s Riz Ahmed is the first Asian man to win an Emmy for acting (and only the second Asian actor ever, after The Good Wife‘s Archie Panjabi, to grab gold). And surely to Netflix’s chagrin, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale — which netted eight total wins — became the first streaming series to be named best drama series.
Filed under First Time in a Long Time, The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Reed Morano was the first woman to win an Emmy for best director in a drama series in 22 years — and only the third woman ever. And This Is Us‘ Sterling K. Brown was the first black person to be named Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 19 years (since Andre Braugher’s 1998 win for Homicide: Life on the Street).
“It feels big,” Brown told reporters of the win. “Andre Braugher came and spoke to us when I was at NYU. And when I first got to school, there was a poster of Gideon’s Crossing above the public theater, so I would see his face all of the time when I left my apartment to go to school. So I’m bugging out! To be standing here 19 years after him, I want to represent. I don’t want to be a flash in the pan…. I feel like I have a 1,000 different people living inside of me, and I’m just looking for opportunities to let them all out.”
Lastly, and filed under Lotsa Times in a Short Time, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ sixth consecutive lead comedy actress win for playing Veep‘s Selina marks a new record for most Emmys collected by a single performer for one role. (JLD previously was tied with Candice Bergen, a five-time winner as Murphy Brown.)
“It’s very baffling,” Louis-Dreyfus said in the press room, “and a s–t ton of good luck.”