From the Chairman
My inaugural year as Television Academy chairman has been marked by a series of firsts, but the 69th Emmys telecast — which you can relive via the dazzling images in this special issue of emmy — will no doubt endure as my first among firsts.
What a great night! The September 17 show, broadcast live on CBS, was highly entertaining — our host, Stephen Colbert, kept things fresh and funny, and the acceptance speeches were at turns impassioned, poignant and playful. And the nominees, winners and guests embodied one of our key priorities as an organization — and the theme of my remarks from the stage that evening — inclusion.
We all know that much work remains to balance the presence of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, persons with disabilities and other underrepresented groups — both behind and in front of the camera. But as this Emmy season demonstrated, strides are being made.
At the Emmy nominations announcement on July 13, Donald Glover — the multi-talented star, writer, director and creator of the FX comedy Atlanta — received four noms, the most for any black performer and creator in a single year. On Emmy night, he won two — outstanding lead actor in a comedy series and outstanding directing for a comedy series.
In another milestone, Riz Ahmed, of HBO’s The Night Of, became the first Muslim and South Asian actor to win a performing Emmy when he took the award for lead actor in a limited series or movie. And Lena Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for outstanding writing for a comedy series when she and Aziz Ansari were honored for the moving “Thanksgiving” episode of Netflix’s Master of None. The storyline, in which a character played by Waithe tells her mother that she is gay, was inspired by Waithe’s experience with her own mother.
“Thanksgiving” was one of several Emmy-winning programs that put women front and center while exploring important social issues. The theme carried through the evening as five Emmys went to Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale — based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, in which women are brutally subjugated by an oppressive regime — and another five to HBO’s Big Little Lies, which depicted domestic violence in an ostensibly idyllic marriage.
Meanwhile, the previous weekend at the Creative Arts Emmys, A&E’s Born This Way — a reality series that stars seven young adults with Down syndrome — won Emmys for cinematography and for casting. Productions such as these — which meld creative excellence, powerful storytelling and relevant subject matter — represent television at its best.
Honoring the best of television is what the Emmys are all about, and all three of this year’s shows — the Creative Arts Emmys on September 9 and 10, and the September 17 telecast — did it masterfully. You can see images from all of the shows in the latest issue of emmy, including the largest portfolio ever from our backstage portrait studio. Be sure to check it out.
As always, there are many people to thank post-Emmys, beginning with the sensational Stephen Colbert and his executive producer Chris Licht, as well as the executive producers of our telecast, Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment. We also thank our show committee and 2017 broadcast partner, CBS. For the Creative Arts we thank Bob Bain, who guided the shows with his committee, headed by chair Jonathan Murray and vice-chair Bob Bergen. And thanks to our returning broadcast partner, FXX, for bringing highlights from both Creative Arts shows to a wider audience.
Thank you as well to the Academy staff and, most importantly, to the more than 24,000 — and growing — talented professionals who comprise our membership. We can’t wait to see what you create this year!
For photographs from all of the Emmy shows — including exclusive portraits from emmy’s backstage photo lounge — don’t miss Emmy Bash Photo Splash.
Chairman and CEO Television Academy