Emmys 2021: RuPaul Makes History on Night Actors of Color Are Shut Out

RuPaul makes Emmys history with 11th win. (Credit: Shutterstock))

On a night the Emmys brought big wins to the casts and production teams behind The Crown, Ted Lasso and The Queen’s Gambit, there were striking losses for actors color who went into the awards with nearly half of the nominations but left empty-handed.

RuPaul’s Drag Race won the Emmy for outstanding competition program, making RuPaul the record holder for the most Emmy wins for a Black person. The host and producer has taken home 11 Emmys over the years for his reality competition series.

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During his acceptance speech, RuPaul thanked his “children” and encouraged LGBTQ+ youth by saying they are part of a community.

“Thanks to all of our lovely children on our show from around the world. You know, they are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life, even more difficult today. This is for you. And for the kids out there watching: You have a tribe that is waiting for you. We are waiting for you, baby: come on to Mama Ru. Thank you so much,” he said in his acceptance speech.

British actress and writer Michaela Coel took home her first Emmy statuette Sunday night in the category of best writing in a television limited series or movie for I May Destroy You, about a writer struggling with the trauma of a sexual assault.

Coel dedicated her acceptance speech to survivors of sexual assault. She started her speech by directly speaking to other television writers, “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable. I dare you — in a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success — do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”

In addition to writing, Coel created, produced, directed, and starred in the series, which is inspired by the 33-year-old’s personal experiences and premiered last year.

Entertainment powerhouse Debbie Allen was presented with the prestigious Governors Award which honored the choreographer, director, producer and actress for her numerous contributions in both television and philanthropy. Gayle King voiced Allen’s presentation video prior to Jada Pinkett Smith, Ellen Pompeo, Ava DuVernay and Michael Douglas teaming up on stage to present the award. The four actors each stood with a cane in homage to Allen’s character “Lydia” in the film Fame (1980).

While the late Michael K. Williams was honored during the In Memoriam segment, and Kerry Washington paid tribute to the Lovecraft Country star in a moving speech, he would ultimately lose to The Crown‘s Tobias Menzies for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series.

“Michael was – crazy to say was – a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being,” Washington said before presenting the award. “Michael, I know you’re here, because you wouldn’t miss this. Your excellence, your artistry will endure. We love you.”

This year’s Emmys returned with an in-person audience, with Cedric the Entertainer hosting the primetime awards show for the first time.

A complete list of the winners can be found here, on the Emmys website.