Lena Waithe made history at the Emmys last week by becoming the first African-American woman to ever win the statuette for outstanding comedy series writing.
She received the award for her work on episode 18 (“Thanksgiving”) of Aziz Ansari and Alan Young’s Master of None series.
“Thanksgiving” takes place over the course of five years and deals with the character Denise (played by Waithe) as she struggles to come out as a lesbian – a story inspired by Waithe’s own experiences.
In her acceptance speech, the talented actor and writer thanked her family, girlfriend and coworkers, and expressed her love and support for the LGBTQIA community:
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…
Waithe shared the award with Ansari, who won in the same category last year. This time around he was also nominated for the comedy series lead actor prize but lost to Atlanta’s Donald Glover.
In addition to bagging the acting statuette, Glover also became the first African-American to win in the comedy directing category. While accepting his award which was, once again for his work on Atlanta, he explained that he created the series in order to show a side of African-American life that is not usually seen on TV. “I wanted to show white people, you don’t know everything about black culture,” Glover explained, before proceeding to poke fun at the US president: “I want to thank Trump for making black people No. 1 on the most-oppressed list. He’s probably the reason I’m up here.”
Lena Waithe and Donald Glover were not the only victors who broke new ground this year – Riz Ahmed went home with the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie accolade, thus becoming the first Asian man and the first Muslim to receive an acting award at the Emmys.
Ahmed plays the character Nasir “Naz” Khan in HBO’s miniseries The Night Of – a gripping crime drama about a Muslim man who is charged with the murder of a mysterious young woman he meets while partying. Swept in a grisly murder investigation, Naz is shaken to the point of starting to doubt his own innocence.
In a press conference following the awards ceremony, Ahmed spoke about his victory with cautious optimism:
I don’t know if one person’s win of an award, one person snagging one role, or one person doing very well, changes something that’s a systemic issue of inclusion in this industry. I think that’s something that happens slowly, over time. If there’s enough isolated examples of success then maybe the dots start joining up and it’s not as slow a process as it sometimes is.
For more information about this year’s Emmys and a full list of winners, click here: https://www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners