Alex Borstein appears on stage during night one of the Television Academy's 2021 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the L.A. LIVE Event Deck on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Los Angeles.
The Queen’s Gambit, the acclaimed limited series about an orphaned girl from Kentucky who becomes an international chess champion, made a strong opening move in the 2021 Emmy Awards on Saturday, with wins in seven categories. The seven-episode drama, adapted from a novel by Walter Tevis, powered Netflix to a total of 12 Emmys — the highest tally of the night and twice as many as its nearest rival, Disney+, which captured six. Apple TV+ and HBO followed with four each.
The seven Emmys for The Queen’s Gambit led all programs, followed by three each for FX’s Pose, Disney+’s The Mandalorian and NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
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In addition to honoring an array of technical and crafts categories, the show included several acting awards.
Held on the Event Deck of the L.A. Live campus in downtown Los Angeles, the Saturday-night ceremony was the first of three Creative Arts presentations this year — two others will be held on Sunday. Attendance was limited due to Covid-19 precautions, but the those gathered at this first Emmys before a live audience since 2019 were in a celebratory mood.
“I’m thrilled to be in person and be in a live audience — the first live audience since March of 2020 — and the energy was great, like being shot out of a cannon," said presenter June David Raphael (Grace and Frankie), speaking to the media after the show. "There’s just that connection to the audience that Zoom and all of the platforms, as lifesaving as they are, haven’t been able to capture.”
Although largely festive, the night included serious moments. Remarks by both presenters and winners noted that the event was taking place on the twentieth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And, of course, there were references to the pandemic.
In addition, powerful emotion fueled speeches by winners for Pose, the groundbreaking drama set in the world of ball culture in late 1980s New York, which has received plaudits for its representation of the LGBTQ community, particularly trans women of color. In 2019, the show marked a milestone when one of its stars, Billy Porter, was the first openly gay man to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series; this year, another star, Mj Rodriguez, is the first trans woman to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Also receiving praise for its diversity and representation was HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, which won the Emmy for Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming. Accepting the award, editor Stephanie Filo — who was joined by colleagues Daysha Broadway and Jessica Hernández — said, “There have never been three women of color standing here with this award. It so important that people staff their crews with diversity and inclusion.”
Speaking to the media afterward, Broadway noted that the entire cast, as well the writers’ room, consisted of Black women and expressed hope that the show would be an inspiration to other young Black women with dreams of working in the entertainment industry.
The Creative Arts Emmys focus primarily on technical and crafts categories, including casting, cinematography, picture editing, sound, production design, costumes, hairstyling, makeup and more.
On Saturday, the emphasis was on scripted programming. The first ceremony on Sunday will focus on unscripted and documentary programming. The second Sunday show will return to scripted programming and will include several performance categories.
For Netflix, the seven awards won by The Queen’s Gambit were: Period and/or Character Makeup (Non-Prosthetic), Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More), Cinematography for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, Period Costumes, Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie, Sound Mixing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie and Sound Editing for a Limited or Anthology Series, Movie or Special.
The streamer’s five other Emmys include two for the historical drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth, The Crown (Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour), Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series) and one each for the Regency-era drama Bridgerton (Period and/or Character Hairstyling), the C&W-themed comedy Country Comfort (Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series) and the sci-fi/fantasy animation anthology Love, Death + Robots (Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation).
The six for Disney+ included three for the Star Wars saga The Mandalorian (Prosthetic Makeup, Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour), Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour)), two for the Marvel limited series WandaVision (Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half-Hour), Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes) and one for Black Is King, the musical starring Beyonce inspired by The Lion King (Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming).
For Apple TV+, the four wins included two for the feel-good soccer comedy Ted Lasso (Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation, Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series) and one each for the mystery drama Calls (Motion Design) and the space exploration drama For All Mankind (Innovation in Interactive Programming).
HBO’s four included one each for Mare of Easttown, the Pennsylvania-set thriller starring Kate Winslet (Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More)), the musical opus David Byrne’s American Utopia (Sound Mixing for a Variety Series or Special), Lovecraft Country, the horror fantasy exploring the supernatural fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and racism in the United States in the Jim Crow era (Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour)) and the previously mentioned picture editing honor for A Black Lady Sketch Show.
Pose won its three Emmys for Contemporary Hairstyling, Contemporary Makeup (Non-Prosthetic) and Contemporary Costumes.
Also taking three Emmys was NBC’s long-running sketch series Saturday Night Live — for Contemporary Hairstyling for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program, Contemporary Makeup for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program (Non-Prosthetic) and Production Design for a Variety, Reality or Competition Series.
Bob Bain was executive producer of the Creative Arts Emmys for the seventh time. The Television Academy’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards Committee is led by co-chairs Bob Boden and Rich Carter and vice chair Judalina Neira.
FXX will broadcast edited highlights from the Saturday and Sunday Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday, September 18, at 8:00 PM ET/PT.
A complete list of winners is available here.