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Arts and Entertainment

From Donald Glover To Lena Waithe, All The Historic Firsts At The 2017 Emmys

Donald Glover kissing his Emmys. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
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From Handmaid's Tale to Lena Waithe's award for best comedy writing, this year's Emmys strayed from its well-worn path to embrace the new distribution models in television and recognize long-overlooked demographics in its winners.The Handmaid's Tale picked up the Emmy for Outstanding Drama, making it the first streaming-only show to win the award. Netflix first made history when House of Cards was first nominated in 2013, but the show never clinched the award. The Outstanding Drama win for The Handmaid's Tale is also Hulu's first Emmy award in general.

The representation of diversity in awards shows has drawn major focus in recent years—most notably with #oscarssowhite trending for the 2016 Academy Awards—and the wins at this year's Emmys showcased a whole class of highly talented actors, writers, and directors of color.

Donald Glover won for Outstanding Directing of a Comedy Series for Atlanta, his surrealist comedy about the rap scene in Atlanta. He was the first black director to win in that category. In accepting the award, Glover said, "I want to thank Trump for making black people number one on the most oppressed list," adding, "He’s probably the reason I’m up here."

Over in the writing categories, Waithe and Aziz Ansari won for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Master of None. They won for co-writing the Thanksgiving episode of Season 2. Ansari had won the award last year, too, but this was Waithe's first win, which also made her the first black woman to ever win for writing for a comedy series. The L.A. Times points out she was also only the second woman of color to ever be nominated; before her, Mindy Kaling was nominated for co-writing the Niagara episode of The Office with the show's creator, Greg Daniels.

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Here's a heartwarming scene of Glover and Waithe congratulating each other behind-the-scenes:

In acting, Sterling K. Brown won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role in This Is Us. His win is the first time a black actor has won the award in the 21st century; the previous time a black man won the category was in 1998, when Andre Braugher won for Homicide: Life on the Streets, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Did these results get a boost from Issa Rae's support? On the red carpet, when Variety asked her who she was rooting for, the creator and star of Insecure responded by saying "everybody black."

The first-time wins didn't stop there, either. Riz Ahmed of The Night Of won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, making him the first man of Asian descent to win an acting Emmy. In his acceptance speech, he said, “[i]f this show has [shined] a light on some of the prejudice in our society, Islamophobia, some of the injustice in our justice system, then maybe that’s something."

Julia Louis Dreyfus also made her own history when she won Outstanding Comedy Actress in a Leading Role, winning her the most ever Emmys for playing the same character (she has won as Selina Meyer a total of six times; previously, Candice Bergen and Don Knotts both won five times for playing their respective characters).

Reed Morano, winner of Outstanding Directing of a Drama Series for her work on The Handmaid's Tale, is also the first woman to win the award in 22 years. The last female director to win for directing a drama was Mimi Leder in 1995 for the ER episode “Love’s Labor Lost.”

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With so much history made, the Emmys must be doing something right, right? Oh wait, they also brought up Sean Spicer as if he hadn't been a vocal liar while serving as President Trump's press secretary. So there's that.

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