Next to the Academy Awards and the Venice Film Festival, The Emmy Awards is the longest-anticipated event for myself and my family every year. I tend to ignore the “health and wellness” critics who claim that mind-numbing television is an immediate accelerant to disease, weight gain and a dramatic loss of brain cells. In my home, television promotes family bonding, creates a space to experience an hour of a drastically different life and general excitement for the release date of new seasons and series. I always welcome peoples’ TV show recommendations and am never not delighted to offer opinions of my own; who doesn’t love escapism?
On Sept. 12 of this year, the Seventy-Fourth Primetime Emmy Awards aired on NBC and highlighted the most popular series of the year such as “Succession,” “Ted Lasso” and “The White Lotus.” The event was filled with many memorable moments: John Legend’s heartfelt performance of his new song “Pieces” for the memoriam ceremony, Lizzo’s first Emmy win for “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” Jennifer Coolidge’s hilarious acceptance speech for her “White Lotus” performance and Jimmy Kimmel’s controversial announcement tactic. Although there were some questionable choices made, the beautiful moments definitely came out on top.
I wanted to first turn our attention to the red carpet; I’d be lying if I said that red carpet fashion isn’t my main motivation for turning on every award show. Zendaya’s custom black Valentino ball gown won the night, and it looked even better onstage when she accepted her Emmy for Euphoria (Lead Actress in a Drama Series). Angela Bassett also stunned audiences with her perfectly tailored yellow sequined Dolce and Gabbana dress, as did Lily James in her metallic Versace number. James’s performance in “Pam and Tommy” is what has made me recommend the show dozens of times over.
The first onstage moment I need to highlight is Jennifer Coolidge’s acceptance speech. Her award for Best Supporting Actress in “The White Lotus” was Coolidge’s first Emmy win, and I could not have been more thrilled to witness this history being made. Her performances never fail to put a smile on my face, and although her speech was cut short, she received the utmost support of every fellow actor in the room.
“I just want to say I took a lavender bath tonight, right before the show, and it made me swell up inside my dress and I’m having a hard time speaking,” Coolidge joked at the beginning of her speech, before dancing along to her send off music.
The equally chaotic and comedic energy of this acceptance speech will live on as one of the most iconic in The Emmy Awards’ history.
In continued “girl power” fashion, Lizzo picked up her first Emmy for Outstanding Competition Program for her show “Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls.”
“When I was a little girl, all I wanted to see was me in the media. Someone fat like me. Black like me. Beautiful like me. If I could go back and tell little Lizzo something, I would be like, ‘You’re going to see that person, but bitch, it’s going to have to be you,’” Lizzo revealed as she accepted her award in tears and spoke to the importance of representation in the media.
Her speech was beyond powerful, giving young girls (especially young girls of marginalized communities) the confidence to fulfill their goals, as well as the hope that they too can one day earn a highly sought-after accolade for their achievements.
It would be criminal to recap the night without including perhaps the most iconic moment (maybe in Emmy history): Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Emmy win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series — “Abbott Elementary.” At 65 years old, this was Sheryl Lee Ralph’s first nomination and win. After her years of contribution to the industry, it was incredibly inspiring to finally see Ralph recognized the way she has always deserved to be. The power of her speech was evident from the start, as she asserted that she had a “…speech prepared since I was five years old.”
Her acceptance speech was paired with an emotional performance from Ralph herself, when she sang a verse from jazz singer Diane Reeves’ 1993 song “Endangered Species.” Poignant, powerful, and history-making, as Ralph is only the second Black woman to win the Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy. If you haven’t seen her acceptance speech and performance, you must watch it today.
Lastly, it’s time to honor the king of Hollywood himself, Michael Keaton. Keaton has been involved in some seriously iconic projects (“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Frasier,” and “30 Rock” to name a few), but for this year’s Emmy Awards he was honored as Lead Actor in Limited Anthology series for his performance in the Hulu drama “Dopesick.” His acceptance speech was censored, as he told his “true believers” “I f****** love you.” The actor recalled the days of his childhood when he would recreate television scenes for his family, and how TV had the power to bring his family closer. He closed by thanking, “…all those people in my family for never making me feel foolish because I went on to do that several times myself.”
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