Niecy Nash-Betts Gives One of the Greatest Emmys Speeches of All Time

“I wanna thank me, for believing in me!”

by Claire Valentine

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: Niecy Nash-Betts, winner of the Outstanding Supporting Actress...
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Niecy Nash-Betts won her first Emmy—for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series, for her role on Netflix’s Dahmer—and her acceptance speech was as compelling as her performance as the real-life woman who tried to stop the show’s titular killer.

After thanking her cast, God, and her wife, an emotional Nash-Betts said, “You know who I want to thank? I wanna thank me,” to thunderous laughter and applause from the crowd. “For believing in me, and doing what they said I could not do. And I want to say to myself in front of all you beautiful people, go on girl with you bad self, you did that.”

Nash-Betts then called attention to Black women who have been victims of police negligence and violence, saying, “I accept this award on behalf of every Black and Brown woman who has gone unheard, yet overpoliced, like Glenda Cleveland, like Sandra Bland, like Breonna Taylor. As an artist, my job is to speak truth to power. And, baby, I’mma do it ’til the day I die. Mama, I won!”

Cleveland is the woman Nash-Betts portrayed in Ryan Murphy’s Dahmer—Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. Cleveland was a neighbor of the infamous serial killer (played by Nash’s fellow Emmy nominee Evan Peters); she tried to alert the police several times but was always rebuffed. While the gruesome series was the subject of some controversy, it did portray this aspect of police failure, not unrelated to the fact that Dahmer’s victims were mostly gay men and people of color.

While this marked Nash-Betts’s first Emmy win, she had already received four other nominations, including a nod for Best Actress in a Comedy for her role as Denise “Didi” Ortley in HBO’s Getting On. It was a historic night at the awards ceremony, where Black women won both Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Quinta Brunson for Abbott Elementary) and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy (Ayo Edebiri for The Bear)—a first in the Emmys’ 75-year history.