They made us laugh, cry, and get to our feet to applaud. No, we’re not talking about our favourite TV shows, but the best acceptance speeches from the 2019 Emmy Awards.
From breathtaking red carpet fashion to moving cast reunions and the occasional, unfiltered slip-up, awards shows are entertainment at its finest. And aside from the on-screen performances that are honoured at the ceremonies, there’s one other moment that has the power to make audiences laugh, cry and break out in rapturous applause. We are, of course, talking about acceptance speeches.
This year, at the 71st Emmy Awards, Hollywood’s finest actors certainly delivered in the standout speeches stakes. If there was an Emmy for Outstanding Emmys Speech, it would definitely go to these these 2019 winners.
Alex Borstein (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Comedy queen Alex Bornstein delivered laughter and heartbreak in equal measure when she accepted her award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as brash comedy manager Susie in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
“I know a lot of people were upset last year because I wasn’t wearing a bra, so I want to apologise because tonight I’m not wearing any underwear. So you’re just going to want to just throw out that chair or clean it pretty good,” she began.
Bornstein then paid tribute to the “strength of a woman”, giving a shoutout to director Amy Sherman Palladino, the cast and crew on the show, and finishing with a powerful story about her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor.
My grandmother was in line to be shot into a pit,” she continued. “She said, ‘What happens if I step out of line?’ He said, ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will,’ and she stepped out of line. For that, I am here and my children are here. So step out of line, ladies. Step out of line!”
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Fleabag)
The star and creator of hit comedy Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, won big at the awards show with the prizes for Outstanding Actress, Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Comedy Series, and made the audience laugh with a nod to her complex on-screen character.
“I find writing really, really hard and really painful,” she began. “But I’d like to say, just honestly from the bottom of my heart, that the reason that I do it is this,” she said, holding the award aloft.
“But I’d like to say honestly from the bottom of my heart that’s the reason that I do it is this. So it’s made it all really worth it. And it’s just really wonderful to know and reassuring that dirty, pervy, angry, messed up women can make it to the Emmys.”
Michelle Williams (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, Fosse/Verdon)
Michelle Williams received a standing ovation for her moving acceptance speech about equal pay when she picked up the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her leading role in biographical miniseries Fosse/Verdon.
Hailing her win “an acknowledgement of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feel safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they’ll be heard,” Williams thanked her producers for accommodating her interpretation of dancer Gwen Verdon.
“So thank you so much to FX and Fox 21 Studios for supporting me completely and paying me equally. Because they understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. And then where do they put that value? They put it into their work.
Williams finished by demanding change for women in Hollywood who have suffered workplace inequality in the film and television industries.
“The next time a woman, and especially a woman of colour - because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart - tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her. Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it.”
Billy Porter (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Pose)
Billy Porter had much to celebrate as he became the first gay black man to win an Emmy in the lead actor category, proclaiming, “The category is love, y’all!” as he accepted his award from Kerry Washington.
The Pose actor then used his platform to speak about the importance of LGBTQ+ representation on screen.
“I am so overwhelmed and I am so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day,” he exclaimed. “James Baldwin said, ‘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 the right to be here.’ I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right!”
Porter went on to pay a moving tribute to his mum, declaring “there is no stronger, more resilient woman who has graced this earth,” before issuing a call-to-action to his fellow actors.
“We as artists are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet,” he continued. “Please don’t ever stop doing that.”
Jodie Comer (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Killing Eve)
Breakout actress Jodie Comer, who picked up the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Villanelle in Killing Eve, was visibly stunned when Gwyneth Paltrow announced her win.
“I was not expecting to get up on this stage at all,” she said as she accepted her award. “I can not believe I am in a category alongside these women, one of them who is my co-star Sandra Oh.
“Safe to say, Sandra, that this Killing Eve journey has been an absolute whirlwind and I feel so lucky to have shared the whole experience with you.”
Comer then made the audience laugh when she admitted she didn’t think to invite her parents to the ceremony in LA because she had no expectation of winning, although she promised to bring the award back home to Liverpool.
“My mum and dad who are in Liverpool, who I didn’t invite because I didn’t think this was going to be my time,” she added. “One, I’m sorry. Two, I love you and I’m going to bring it home.”