Kate McKinnon, Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy, Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon had been nominated four times for her work on Saturday Night Live, but this marked her very first win. After besting Allison Janney, Anna Chlumsky, Gaby Hoffmann, Judith Light and Niecy Nash, an emotional McKinnon took the stage and in true form, made the audience laugh. “Thank you to the academy so much … Good sentence,” she said. The comedian went on to thank Lorne Michaels, all of her SNL colleagues, and, of course, two of her go-to impressions, Ellen Degeneres and Hillary Clinton. (Because why not?) Ending things on a sincere note, she thanked her mother, sister, and late father, who made her start watching SNL when she was 12. “Thank you and I miss you, pop,” she said before exiting the stage. So, to sum it up: It was funny, serious, and downright charming.
Rami Malek, Best Actor in a Drama, Mr. Robot
Elliot Alderson made a brief appearance — or did he? — on the Emmys stage when Rami Malek won for Best Actor in a Drama. As the actor opened his speech, he addressed the audience in his character’s signature monotone and said, “Please tell me you’re seeing this, too.” Switching gears immediately afterward, Malek encouraged viewers to fly their freak flag. “I play a young man who is, like so many of us, profoundly alienated. And the unfortunate thing is, I’m not sure how many of us would want to hang out with a guy like Elliot. But I want to honor the Elliots,” he said. “‘Cause there’s a little bit of Elliot in all of us, isn’t there?” Sure, Rami — but hopefully not so much that we start hallucinating Mr. Robot, too.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Best Actress in a Comedy, Veep
Julia Louis-Dreyfus knows what goes into a good acceptance speech. After all, this is the fifth year in a row that she’s taken home the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy for her Selina Meyer on Veep. Once on stage, Louis-Dreyfus started by thanking everyone who deserved recognition, before transitioning to a bit of humor when she chose to “personally apologize for the current political climate. I think that Veep has torn down the wall between comedy and politics,” she said. “Our show started out as a political satire, but it now feels more like a sobering documentary.” Louis-Dreyfus then promised to rebuild the wall between comedy and politics … and make Mexico pay for it. But before wrapping things up, she dedicated her award to her father, who passed away on Friday. “I’m so glad that he liked Veep because his opinion was the one that really mattered,” an emotional Louis-Dreyfus said before exiting the stage. If only there were another award to give her for that speech.
Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari, Best Writing for a Comedy, Master of None
Alan Yang delivered a speech just as raw and honest as “Parents,” the episode of Master of None for which he and co-creator Aziz Ansari won. “There are 17 million Asian Americans in this country, and 17 million Italian Americans. They have The Godfather, Goodfellas, Rocky, The Sopranos. We got Long Duk Dong,” Yang said, referring to the cringe-worthy stereotypical Asian character portrayed in Sixteen Candles. “We have a long way to go, but I know we can get there, I believe in us. It’s just going to take a lot of hard work.” He then addressed Asian parents watching the show. “If just a couple of you get your kids cameras instead of violins, we’d be all good,” he said. Though the heartfelt plea left barely any time for Ansari to add his thoughts — ”I just want to say,” he said, before running off as the music played — the pair got their freshman comedy’s message of diversity across, and impressively garnered laughs while at it.
Sarah Paulson, Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Sarah Paulson admitted that she wasn’t able to feel her face (thanks to some “mouth-wetting drops,” she said), but her speech brought tears to her co-stars and, most importantly, Marcia Clark herself, who Paulson portrayed in The People v. O.J. Simpson. “The more I learned about the real Marcia Clark… the more I had to recognize that I, along with the rest of the world, had been superficial and careless in my judgment, and I’m glad to stand here in front of you and everyone today and say I’m sorry,” she said, her voice shaking as Clark, Paulson’s guest for the evening, teared up at the statement. Paulson went on to thank Executive Producer Ryan Murphy — “you changed my life” — and, of course, girlfriend Holland Taylor with a brief, speech-capping, “I love you.”
Jeffrey Tambor, Best Actor in a Comedy, Transparent
Only Jeffrey Tambor could “shush” the orchestra from playing him off the stage. After listing the cast, crew, and people he wanted to thank from Amazon (“Jeff Bezos, who took my hand last night and said, ‘Call me Jeff Bezos’”), he quieted the music and captured the audience’s attention with an emotional appeal that echoed what Transparent showrunner, Jill Soloway, had said during her acceptance speech for Outstanding Directing. “I’m not going to say this beautifully, but to you people out there, you producers and network owners and you agents and you creative sparks, please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions, give them their story. Do that,” Tambor said, while the camera cut to transgender actress, Laverne Cox, who cheered him on. “I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a female transgender on television. We have work to do.”
Tatiana Maslany, Best Actress in a Drama, Orphan Black
First-time Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany won the award for most endearingly flustered. The Orphan Black star took the stage with her phone in hand, quickly admitting, “I should have had this written down.” But somehow, she made it work anyway. Maslany managed to thank all those responsible for making Orphan Black, before thanking her family, and finally, pairing her genuine shock with an important message, declaring, “I feel so lucky to be on a show that puts women at the center.” (And fun fact: She plays nearly all those women.)
Sterling K. Brown, Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
After receiving a standing ovation from many members of the crowd, Sterling K. Brown started off his speech by joking that he called Melania Trump that morning to ask for her advice if he were to win. After clarifying that he doesn’t actually know Melania Trump, Brown took a more serious approach to the rest of his speech. He thanked the communities that have supported him throughout his career, his son, his alma mater, Stanford University, the directors and writers of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, his producers — specifically Ryan Murphy — for “giving a brother a chance,” and finally, his three sister wives: co-star Sarah Paulson, his manager, and his wife, actress Ryan Michelle Bathe. Or as he put it, “Contrary to popular belief, I got the hottest chick in the game rocking my chain.”
Jill Soloway, Best Directing for a Comedy, Transparent
Jill Soloway came prepared with a rally cry to round out her speech: “Topple the patriarchy!” The Emmy winner for Best Directing in a Comedy Series for the Transparent episode, “Man on the Land,” spoke of how being a director is easy, compared to what her subjects — transgender women and minority groups, in particular — have to go through. “Being a director is so f—ing easy. I get to make my dreams come true, it’s a privilege, and it also creates privilege when you take women, people of color, trans people, queer people, and you put them in the center of the story, as subjects instead of objects, you change the world,” she said, drawing cheers. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of the movement.” She then thanked the trans community and encouraged the audience to stop violence against the community, delivering a solid, heartfelt speech.
David Mandel, Best Comedy, Veep
Veep showrunner and EP David Mandel began his speech with a plea — not about a social or political issue, but about an early morning gig at his son’s school he unfortunately signed up for a while back. “I have a 9:30 a.m. library shift tomorrow,” he said, to laughs from the crowd. “If anyone would like to trade, email me.” From there, he only got more flustered — at one point he even pulled out his parking ticket, but quickly turned the mistake into a joke that brought on even more laughs: “If they could bring car 150 around, that would get things moving,” he remarked. To cap it all off, Mandel went the earnest route, thanking comedians who inspired him, the crew behind Veep, and lastly, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who “makes this easy,” before declaring, “This is for chubby Jews from the Upper West Side. Embrace who you are.” And with that, the entire Veep contingent on stage gathered for a group hug.