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Riz Ahmed, Donald Glover, and Lena Waithe make history at the Emmy Awards

(Photo: Getty Images, Kevin Winter)

While the people behind the Emmys would probably tell you that every award is special, three awards at tonight’s ceremony have extra historical significance.

First there’s Master Of None’s Lena Waithe, who became the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series. Clearly touched, Waithe gave a short and meaningful speech, thanking the people in her life who helped her get there (video via Splinter):


Then there was Donald Glover, who became the first black person to ever win the Outstanding Directing In A Comedy Series award thanks to his work on Atlanta. In his speech, he thanked his friend Hiro Murai for teaching him about directing:

Next, Riz Ahmed became the first man of Asian descent to win an acting Emmy after getting the award for Outstanding Acting In A Limited Series for his work on HBO’s The Night Of. In his speech, he highlighted the importance of the Innocence Project and the New York-based South Asian Youth Action organization.

Elsewhere at the Emmys, Sterling K. Brown’s win for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama marked the first time the award had been won by a black man in 19 years. Before he was prematurely cut off, Brown paid tribute to Andre Braugher’s 1998 win for Homicide: Life On The Street, saying, “19 years ago, Detective Frank Pembleton held this joint, as impeccably played by Andre Braugher. I just want to say that whether it’s at Stanford University or on this stage, it’s my supreme honor to follow in your footsteps.” Also, before Reed Morano won the Outstanding Directing In A Drama Series award for The Handmaid’s Tale, it had been 22 years since a woman had won that particular award. (Mimi Leder won for ER back in 1995.)


In other historic Emmy wins, Julia Louis-Dreyfus getting the Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy trophy broke the record for most Emmy wins for a single role (previous record-holders were Don Knotts and Candice Bergen), and The Handmaid’s Tale’s win for Outstanding Drama was the first time that award has ever gone to a streaming service.

[Note: Splinter, like The A.V. Club, is owned by Univision Communications.]


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