Acceptance speeches can be notoriously long-winded and dull, but last night’s Emmys featured several especially moving and occasionally hilarious speeches. Winners spoke about topics like representation, equal pay, and trans visibility— to name a few. Below we’ve collected the best of these must-see moments:
Phoebe Waller-Bridge Talked Representation
"It's reassuring that a dirty, pervy, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys."— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 23, 2019
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the queen of the Emmys, winning three awards for @Fleabag.
Read more: https://t.co/h4f3yNdiY0 pic.twitter.com/kA8fCfYgav
Fleabag was a big winner at Emmys picking up awards for directing, writing, acting, and Outstanding Comedy Series. It was so much that Waller-Bridge began her third acceptance speech, saying “well, this is just getting ridiculous.” Amidst her jokes, Waller-Bridge spoke to the strong female characters in her show, noting “It’s wonderful to know and reassuring that a dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys.”
Michelle Williams Reminded Us Why Equal Pay Is Important
"I want to say thank you so much to FX and Fox 21st Studios for supporting me completely and paying me equally." Watch #FosseVerdonFX star Michelle Williams' powerful #Emmys acceptance speech: https://t.co/phMp9uzRRq pic.twitter.com/huE8L8VcJ8— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 23, 2019
Accepting the award for Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her role in FX’s Fosse/Verdon series, Michelle Williams spoke about what a positive experience she had working on the show. “Thank you to FX Studios for supporting me equally and paying me equally,” Williams said. The remainder of Williams’ speech centered on the issue of equal pay and called on studios to give all women the same kind of support she was given. She said, “The next time a woman — and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart — tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her.”
Patricia Arquette Shared A Story About Her Trans Sister, Alexis
“I am in mourning every day of my life, Alexis, and I will be the rest of my life until we change the world so that trans people are not persecuted.”— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) September 23, 2019
Thank you Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) for showing up every day for the trans community. #Emmys 💙💗⚪ pic.twitter.com/oggCNa6qWi
Picking up her award for Supporting Actress In A Limited Series for her performance in Hulu’s The Act, Patricia Arquette shifted the focus of her acceptance speech to her late sister Alexis. Alexis was a trans activist and actress who passed in 2016 after complications with HIV. Arquette made it clear that her sister’s passing is still fresh in her mind. “I'm in mourning, Alexis, and I will be the rest of my life for you until we change the world, until trans people are not persecuted,” she said, to resounding applause.
Billy Porter Made History
Winning for his performance in Pose, Billy Porter became the first openly gay black man to snag the Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama, but as Porter said in the opening of his speech “the category is LOVE.” Fitting his historic win, Porter’s speech centered on self-worth and visibility. Quoting writer James Baldwin, Billy exclaimed, “Took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself and halfway believed, before I could walk around this earth like I had the right to be here.” Porter ended his speech, emphasizing the universality of this quote, saying "I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right.”
Jharrel Jerome Received A Standing Ovation
After winning Lead Actor in A Limited Series for his work in When They See Us, Jerome paid homage to the real-life man he portrayed—Korey Wise. “Most importantly this is for the men we know as the Exonerated Five,” Jerome said. A standing ovation for the five men followed, which proved to be an undeniably emotional moment. The Exonerated Five, known until recently as The Central Park Five, were falsely accused of raping a woman in 1989, sentenced to prison as teenagers. Though When They See Us failed to secure any of its other nominations, the moment provided some visibility to the five men who very much deserved it.
Alex Borstein Gave A Lesson In Resistance
In her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress in A Comedy Series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Alex Borstein took the audience back a couple of generations to the story of her great-grandma, a Holocaust survivor who barely escaped death at the hands of a firing squad. According to the two time Emmy winner, her grandmother, in line to be shot, asked: “what happens if I step out of line?” The guard replied, “I don’t have the heart to shoot you but somebody will.” Borstein finished her speech with a rallying cry to women everywhere, “Step out of line, ladies! Step out of line!” Susie would be so proud!
Photo is a screenshot from Phoebe Waller-Bridge's speech on www.emmys.com
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Sophie Hayssen is a blog and newsletter editor at BUST. Her work has appeared in Rookie, Teen Vogue, and Women's Media Center. She is a born-and-raised New Yorker who currently lives in Brooklyn. You can find more of her work here.