Billy Porter and Jharrel Jerome Make Emmys History

Billy Porter and Jharrel Jerome won Emmy Awards on Sept. 22, 2019. (Credit: Shutterstock)

It was a history-making night at the 71st Emmy Awards for two actors of color.

Billy Porter became the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series on Sunday in Los Angeles. Porter, who plays fierce and fabulous ballroom emcee Pray Tell on FX’s Pose, walked on stage in a glittery suit and oversized black hat to pick up his award.

“The category is love, y’all,” he said to thunderous applause inside the Microsoft Theater. “I am so overwhelmed and I am so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day.”

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In one of the most powerful speeches of the night, Porter continued by quoting James Baldwin.

“It 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 a right to be here. I have the right,” he said. “You have the right. We all have the right.”

The actor’s Emmy win brings him one step closer to EGOT status, having already taken home a Tony and a Grammy.

In another moving moment, Bronx native Jharrel Jerome became the first Afro-Latino performer to win an Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his portrayal of Korey Wise in When They See Us.

The critically acclaimed Netflix drama about five young men who were wrongfully convicted of a rape in Central Park was written and directed by Ava DuVernay, and became one of the streaming giant’s most watched series.

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"Game of Thrones" was named Game of Thrones Outstanding Drama Series at the 2019 Emmy Awards. (Credit: Shutterstock)
“Game of Thrones” was named Outstanding Drama Series at the 2019 Emmy Awards. (Credit: Shutterstock)

After receiving a standing ovation, Jerome thanked his mother, DuVernay, and the men known as the “Exonerated Five” — Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Wise.

“This is for the men that we know as the ‘Exonerated Five,'” he said. “Thank you so much, it’s an honor. It’s a blessing.”

Other notable winners included RuPaul Charles, who picked up the Outstanding Reality Competition Series trophy for RuPaul’s Drag Race, which airs on VH1.

HBO’s Game of Thrones won trophies for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Peter Dinklage.

Amazon’s Fleabag won Outstanding Comedy Series, along with awards for writing, directing, and lead actress for Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

The Emmys broke a long-standing tradition this year by taking a page from the Oscars and going host-less. However, Black-ish star Anthony Anderson helped fill the void with a comedic opening segment.

A list of all the winners can be found at