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Jean Smart wins her first Emmy in 13 years for Hacks

She was snubbed for Mare Of Easttown, but got her rightful accolades for playing Deborah Vance

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Jean Smart accepting her Emmy in 2021
Jean Smart accepting her Emmy in 2021
Screenshot: CBS

Jean Smart got snubbed in the Emmy category for Outstanding Supporting Actress in A Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, with her Mare Of Easttown co-star Julianne Nicholson taking home the award for the HBO Max show instead. But thankfully, Smart got her due for Hacks, winning Outstanding Lead Actress in aComedy Series. Her Hacks co-star Hannah Einbinder’s reaction, sobbing while applauding, says it all: this was a very well-deserved win.

Emmys 2021 Jean Smart wins

Smart started off her speech noting the string of wins for her other HBO show, saying, “First of all, I want to congratulate my friends on Mare!” The actor also paid tribute to her late husband Richard Gilliland, who died six months ago. “I would not be here without him, without him putting his career on the back-burner so I could take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that I’ve had,” said Smart.

Watching Hacks, it’s evident that Smart had tons of fun playing Deborah Vance, and she confirmed that with her speech: “Hacks has been such a thrill. I can’t even tell you… Oh my god,” said Smart, nearly speechless as she looked back at the incredible work on the show. “Jennifer [Statsky] and Paul [W. Downs ], Lucia [Aniello]… congratulations and and congratulations on your wedding! I couldn’t be there, I’m sorry!” (Aniello and Downs got married the day before the Emmys.) But I read this and I said I have to do this. It checked off every box I was hoping for.”


She joked that she’d forget everybody’s name to thank and accidentally called her agent Scott Henderson “Steve” but her flustered moment got a big laugh, so all was forgiven. She also took time to acknowledge Hannah Einbenber’s own immense talent as her co-star, affectionally calling her “Hannah Mindbender.” “I could not have asked for a[ better] person to bounce everything off of everyday,” said Smart. “I mean, she’s a natural. She’s a precious human being. She’s incredible and every day we go to work is a joy.”

Smart has been on TV for decades, but this has been a massive year for the actor, with two major roles in two of the most talked-about TV series of 2021. The actor has been nominated for Emmys eleven times in total, and this is her fourth win. Her last Emmy win before this was 2008's Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, for her role in Samantha Who? She played Sam’s mother, Regina.