New winners and nostalgia were all over the 75th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, presented Monday at the Peacock Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles.
Some of the Black people who won were first-time Emmy winners—such as Niecy Nash-Betts and Ayo Edebiri—while others were veterans, such as RuPaul Charles, Quinta Brunson, and Trevor Noah. To celebrate the Emmys’ 75th anniversary, the ceremony served up heavy doses of nostalgia with cast reunions of popular TV series from the past 75 years, including the comedy series “Martin.” Fox had the U.S. telecast of the show, which was hosted by Anthony Anderson.
The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place on Sept. 18, 2023, but was postponed because of the strikes from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Both strikes ended in the autumn of 2023. The Television Academy (which has about 20,000 members) votes for the Emmy Awards.
Jesse Collins, Dionne Harmon and Jeannae Rouzan-Clay of Jesse Collins Entertainment were executive producers of the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards, which took place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It was the first time that the Emmy Awards had an all-Black team of executive producers.
“Abbott Elementary” star/showrunner Brunson won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. On the show, she plays Janine Teagues, a teacher at an underfunded elementary school in Philadelphia.
Brunson got tearful during her acceptance speech and seemed to be star-struck and overwhelmed that comedy icon Carol Burnett presented her with the award. Brunson, who said she didn’t have a speech prepared, quipped that she was getting emotional because of “the Carol Burnett of it all.” Brunson proclaimed her love for her family, “Abbott Elementary,” and comedy.
“I’m so happy to be able to live my dream and act out comedy,” she said.
Edebiri has been on a hot streak with several awards for her role as Chicago restaurant chef Sydney Adamu in FX on Hulu’s “The Bear.” For the show’s first season, Edebiri won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. At the ceremony, newcomer “The Bear” tied with the HBO drama series “Succession” to win the most awards (six), with “The Bear” having an Emmy haul that included Outstanding Comedy Series.
In her acceptance speech, Edebiri said, “This is a show about family—found family and real family. My parents are here tonight.” She joked, “I’m making them sit far away from me because I’m a bad kid.”
On a serious note, Edebiri directly addressed her parents and their immigrant roots (her father is originally from Nigeria, and her mother is originally from Barbados).
“Thank you so much for loving me and making me feel beautiful and Black and proud of all of that,” she said. “It’s probably not a dream to immigrate to this country and have a child be like, ‘I want to do [comedy] improv,’ but you’re real ones. Thank you so much for this [award]. It means the world.”
Nash-Betts won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, for her role as real-life crime witness Glenda Cleveland in Netflix’s “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.” Cleveland, who died in 2011, was a neighbor of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, and she made a crucial phone call to police about Dahmer’s suspicious activity in his apartment.
In her acceptance speech, Nash-Betts thanked God, her loved ones, her colleagues, and the people who voted for her. She added, “And you know who I want to thank? I want to thank me, for believing in me and doing what they said they could not do.”
She continued, “I accept this award on behalf of every Black and brown woman who has gone unheard but is over-policed, like Glenda Cleveland, like Sandra Bland, like Breonna Taylor. As an artist, my job is to speak truth to power. And baby, I’m going to do it ‘til the day I die.”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” host/executive producer Charles (who also goes by the one-word stage name RuPaul) continued to add to his large collection of Emmy Awards for the drag queen talent contest. MTV’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” won for Outstanding Reality Competition Program, making it the fifth time the show has won in this Emmy category.
Charles said in his acceptance speech: “We have released into the wild hundreds of drag queens—and they’re beautiful. And on behalf of all of them, we thank you.” He then made a reference to drag queens being banned from family-oriented reading events: “If a drag queen wants to read you a story at a library, listen to her, because knowledge is power. And if someone is trying to restrict your access to power, they are trying to scare you.”
Noah was a host/executive producer of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” from 2015 to 2022. He won the Emmy for Outstanding Talk Series for his last season with the show, after getting nominated in this category in previous years and not winning. It’s Noah’s second Emmy Award. In 2017, he won an Emmy for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series for “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah – Between the Scenes.”
Noah didn’t mince words in his acceptance speech when he talked about HBO’s rival show “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” which dominated in winning Emmys in this category from 2016 to 2022, until the show was moved to the category of Outstanding Scripted Variety Series.
Noah joked, “I told you we would beat John Oliver if he wasn’t in our category. We did it! We got rid of John Oliver!” He thanked his “Daily Show” colleagues, as well as former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, who recommended Noah to be his replacement.
As Emmy host, Anderson was well-received by the audience. However, his job as Primetime Emmy host had a cloud of controversy over it. Several people, including leaders of the non-profit group Sexual Violence Prevention Association, demanded that Anderson be removed from hosting the show because he was accused of sexual assault three times: twice in 2004 and once in 2018.
Anderson was arrested for rape in 2004, but the charges were dropped. Investigations into the other allegations did not result in any criminal charges against him. Representatives for Fox, the Television Academy, and Anderson did not respond to Black News & Views’ requests for comment about this controversy. Anderson posed for photos at the awards show but he did not do interviews.
Anderson received 11 Emmy nominations for being a star and an executive producer of the ABC comedy series “Black-ish,” which was on the air from 2014 to 2022. He has hosted the NAACP Image Awards several times and won eight NAACP Image Awards for his starring role as married father Andre “Dre” Johnson in “Black-ish.”
At the 75th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Anderson opened the show with a series of skits that lasted for nearly seven minutes. He started with a parody of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” called “Mr. Anderson’s Neighborhood,” where he walked into a living room setting and welcomed the Emmys audience on this “beautiful MLK [Martin Luther King Jr.] Day.”
Accompanied by a group of backup singers, he sat down at a piano and sang the theme songs to what he said were some of his favorite shows from his childhood: “Good Times” and “The Facts of Life.” He followed up those tunes with a brief rendition of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” which was revived as a popular hit in the 1980s cop series “Miami Vice.”
Anderson also pointed out his mother, Doris Hancox, in the audience. He said that she would be monitoring the length of winners’ speeches so they wouldn’t go overtime.
Anderson joked, “When you see my mama coming, just thank Jesus and your family, and wrap it up. I don’t want nobody to get disrespectful with my mama, because my mama is from the west side of Chicago, and she can throw them hands.”
Hancox then stood up and joked, “Shut up! That’s enough. I want to go the after-party. Hurry up!” During the a few of the winners’ speeches, she sometimes held up a sign to warn them that they were running out of the allotted speech time.
Anderson and Hancox (also known as Mama Doris) have become an entertainment duo in recent years, starring together in reality shows (E!’s “Trippin’ with Anthony Anderson and Mama Doris” and Discovery+’s “House Haunters”) and co-hosting game shows (ABC’s “To Tell the Truth” and Fox’s “We Are Family”).
For the “Martin” reunion, former “Martin” stars Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, Carl Anthony Payne II, and Tichina Arnold gathered on stage and did a comedy bit where they mock-complained about “Martin” never being nominated for an Emmy Award. The sitcom was on the air from 1992 to 1997.
Meanwhile, Chandra Wilson and James Pickens Jr. were part of the “Grey’s Anatomy” reunion that included Ellen Pompeo, Katherine Heigl, and Justin Chambers. Other shows that had cast reunions at the ceremony were “The Sopranos,” “Ally McBeal,” “Saturday Night Live,” “All in the Family,” and “American Horror Story.” For the “American Horror Story” reunion, Emmy host Anderson went on stage as the show’s famous hooded Rubber Man character, dressed head-to-toe in black latex.
Later, Anderson reunited with his former “Black-ish” co-star Tracee Ellis Ross when they both joined actress Natasha Lyonne to recreate the classic “I Love Lucy” scene where best friends Lucy and Ethel have mishaps while working on a chocolate assembly line.
The ceremony also had some entertainers from different generations team up as presenter duos. Marla Gibbs (best known as sassy maid Florence Johnston in “The Jeffersons”) joined Brunson as a representation of two comedy stars with shows from different centuries. Former “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson was paired with former “Dynasty” star Joan Collins, and the two actresses dished about playing domineering and fashionable divas in their primetime soap operas.
The other Black presenters at the show were Colman Domingo, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Arsenio Hall. The War and Treaty joined Charlie Puth on stage to perform for the “In Memoriam” segment that paid tribute to famous people in the TV industry who died since the previous Primetime Emmy ceremony.
The Governors Award (a non-competitive category for TV influencers) went to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), with GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis accepting the award. “Star Trek: Discovery” star Wilson Cruz—an openly gay Afro-Latino who has played many gay characters on TV—was among the group of people on stage during the speech. Cruz is a national spokesperson/strategic giving officer for GLAAD.
The Creative Arts Emmy Awards (for mostly technical categories) took place at the Peacock Theater at LA Live on Jan. 6 and Jan. 7. FXX televised an edited version of the two-part ceremony on Jan. 13.
Here’s a list of several of the prominent Black people who won in Creative Arts Emmy categories:
- Jon Boogz: Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming (for Starz’s “Blindspotting”)
- Karamo Brown: Outstanding Structured Reality Program (for Netflix’s “Queer Eye”)
- Shawn Carter (also known as Jay-Z): Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special (for Fox’s “The Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show Starring Rihanna”
- RuPaul Charles: Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program (for MTV’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”)
- Jasmine Guy: Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series (for Prime Video’s “Chronicles of Jessica Wu”)
- Taylor Joy Mason: Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming (for HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show”)
- Barack Obama: Outstanding Narrator (for Netflix’s limited series “Working: What We Do All Day”)
- Keke Palmer: Outstanding Host for a Game Show (for NBC’s “Password”). She is the first Black woman to win this award.
- Storm Reid: Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (for HBO’s “The Last of Us”)
- Sam Richardson: Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (for Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso”)
- Maya Rudolph: Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (for Netflix’s “Big Mouth”)
- Neicy Small: Outstanding Makeup for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program (for ABC’s “Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration”)
- Oprah Winfrey, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Shoshana Guy, Roger Ross Williams, and Jonathan Clasberry: Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series (for Hulu’s “The 1619 Project”)
A complete list of winners can be found at the official Emmy Awards website.