The best speeches from the 2020 Emmys
The Schitt's Creek actors
The night kicked off with a veritable Schitt’s sweep, with Schitt’s Creek winning all seven comedy categories, including for stars Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, and Annie Murphy. All accepting from their cast watch party, O’Hara kicked off the night, expressing her gratitude at the chance “to play a woman of a certain age, my age, who gets to fully be her ridiculous self.” Finishing off the comedy-acting sweep, Murphy said she was “so proud to be a part of a show that stands for love and kindness and inclusivity and acceptance because those four things are things that we need more than ever right now.”
The Schitt's Creek sweep
Accepting for Outstanding Comedy Series, an elated Dan Levy echoed Murphy by saying, “Our show at its core is about the transformational effects of love and acceptance and that is something we need more of now than ever before,” before becoming too excited and telling Eugene, “Dad, do the rest of the fun stuff!”
Eugene Levy then took the mic and turned to his son, thanking him for having taken “our fish-out-of-water story about the Rose family, and transformed it into a celebration of inclusivity, a castigation of homophobia, and a declaration about the power of love. Thank you, Daniel.”
Regina King looked like a queen on Zoom, wearing a hot pink blazer over a Breonna Taylor T-shirt that read “SAY HER NAME.” Upon winning Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her performance in Watchmen, the Oscar winner thanked the Television Academy “for choosing me to represent the thespian community” and series creator Damon Lindelof. She finished her speech with a call to vote: “I would be remiss not to mention that, being a part of a show as prescient as Watchmen. Have a voting plan!” she urged, adding, “Rest in power, RBG.”
Mark Ruffalo used his moment winning the Emmy for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, for HBO’s I Know This Much Is True, as a call to action. The series “asks a big question: How are we going to deal and honor and take care of each other and our most vulnerable people? And we do that with love and we do that with compassion and we do that by fighting for them. And that’s what we have to do today. We have to come together with love for each other, and if you have privilege, you have to fight for those who are less fortunate and are more vulnerable — and that’s what's great about America.
“We have a big, important moment ahead of us,” the actor continued. “Are we going to be a country of division, hatred, and a country only for a certain kind of people? Or are we going to be one of love and strength and fighting for those, all of us, so all of us have the American dream?” he asked, before reminding viewers to vote: “Vote for love and compassion and kindness.”
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Following his Watchmen costar Regina King, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II accepted the Emmy for Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie with another inspiring speech. “Watchmen was a story about trauma. It was a story about the lasting scars of white domestic terrorism. It was a story about police corruption and brutality,” he said. “But in the midst of all that, it was also a story about a guy who came down to earth to reciprocate to a Black woman all the love that she deserved. He offered her sacrifice and support. Passion. Protection. And he did all that in the body of a Black man. And I’m so proud that I was able to walk into those shoes.”
Watchmen's big win
Accepting Watchmen’s win for Outstanding Limited Series or Movie, series creator Damon Lindelof, wearing a shirt that read “Remember Tulsa ‘21,” thanked his collaborators standing behind him before delivering the oration: “History is mystery. It is broken into a million puzzle pieces, and many are missing. We know where those pieces are, but we don’t seek them out because we know finding them will hurt. Sometimes we cause that hurt. Maybe we even benefited from it. But we have to name it before we can repair it. Be careful. Be clumsy. Run hot. Stay cool. Be the bull in the china shop. Pick up what you broke and glue it back together. Don’t stop until it’s great. Affirm. It’s never great enough. Dissent. Be consistent. Embrace paradox. Never contradict yourself. And finally, stop worrying about getting canceled and ask yourself what you’re doing to get renewed.” He dedicated the award to the victims and survivors of the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, then reminded everyone at home: “The fires that destroyed Black Wall Street still burn today. The only way to put them out is if we all fight them together.”
Accepting the annual Governors Award, Tyler Perry delivered a moving speech about diversity, opening with the memory of a quilt made by his grandmother: At first, he didn’t appreciate the mismatched, homemade piece, but then came to realize that “each patch of the quilt she had put in represented a part of her life,” he said. “Now, whether we know it or not, we are all sewing our own quilts with our thoughts, our behaviors, our experiences, and our memories,” he continued. “And now Black people, white people, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, ex-cons, Latin, Asian, all of us working, coming together to add patches to a quilt that is as diverse as it can be. Diversity at its best.
“I stand here tonight to say thank you to all of the people who are celebrating and know the value of every patch, every story, every color that makes up this quilt that is our business. This quilt that is America, because in my grandmother’s quilt there were no patches that represented Black people on television, but in my quilt her grandson is being celebrated by the Television Academy,” he concluded. “I thank you for this. God bless you.”
The success of Succession
In the final award of the night, HBO’s Succession took the Emmy for Outstanding Drama — but series creator Jesse Armstrong decided to put a sour twist on his acceptance speech that perhaps suited the cynical show being honored. “For being robbed of the opportunity to spend this time with our peers and the cast and crew, I think maybe I’d like to do a couple of un-thank yous,” he said after an initial expression of gratitude and appreciation of the moment. “Un-thank you to the virus, for keeping us all apart this year. Un-thank you to President Trump, for his crummy and uncoordinated response. Un-thank you to Boris Johnson and his government for doing the same in my country. Un-thank you to tall the nationalist and quasi-nationalist governments in the world who are exactly the opposite of what we need right now. Un-thank you to the media moguls who do so much to keep them in power."