“It’s the beginning, the beginning of a new wave of amazing women of color who are funny, can write their asses off and who deserve a seat at the table,” said Master of None’s Lena Waithe Friday evening inside Gracias Madre at Variety and Women In Film’s annual fête.
“Because of the nomination, others will have an opportunity to walk in the door,” she continued. “Women make up half of this country, and we deserve to see ourselves in a layered, complex and human light—not perfect, human—and I think who better to tell human stories about women than women.”
On Friday night, Waithe had already made history as the first black woman to be nominated for comedy writing. Last night, at the 2017 Emmy Awards, she made history as the first winner.
She won for co-writing the “Thanksgiving” episode (with Aziz Ansari, the face and co-creator of the series), which stems from a personal experience, based on her coming out.
“I see each and every one of you,” she said during her acceptance speech, giving a special shout-out to her “L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. family.” “The things that make us different, those are our superpowers...thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer Black girl from the South side of Chicago.”
It was a poignant speech during a night of personal, and often times, political monologues, kicked off by the evening's host, Stephen Colbert.The comedian brought the biggest shock of the night early on, when he welcomed former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to the stage for a bit that poked fun at the controversy surrounding the disputed number of attendees at the president's inauguration.
“That was wild,” remarked a guest about the appearance at HBO’s post-show party, held at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center.
It was a frequent topic of the night at the bash, where Julia Louis-Dreyfus held court in the center of the large, sprawling space, surrounded by Veep costars. She too made history when she won best actress in a comedy series for the sixth year, breaking the record for the most Emmys won by a lead actor for the same role. By 10:30 p.m., award in hand, she was taking selfies with Larry David, as a crowd gathered around watching in amusement.
Earlier in the week, Showtime hosted a private dinner at Chateau Marmont with nominees William H. Macy of Shameless with wife Felicity Huffman, Liev Schreiber of Ray Donovan, and Mandy Patinkin, while Audi hosted its eighth annual pre-Emmy party, this year at The Dream Hotel’s The Highlight Room rooftop, which had Louis-Dreyfus and a few other familiar names stopping by. But nothing was as star-studded as HBO, who once again led with 29 wins this year—despite Game of Thrones’ absence for being ineligible—with shows like Veep, The Night Of, and Big Little Lies.
It was the crème de la crème of top executives and HBO ensembles, as well as the known faces of SNL, like Lorne Michaels and McKinnon. There was Westworld’s Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and Tessa Thompson, who was sharing laughs with singer and actress Janelle Monáe, Riz Ahmed, John Oliver, Michelle Pfeiffer with writer and producer husband David E. Kelley, Jessica Biel, Jon Hamm, Debra Messing, and a very pregnant Kerry Washington.
There were also Big Little Lies actors (and co-producers) Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, who brought along 18-year-old daughter Ava Elizabeth Phillippe as her date.
Following HBO, perhaps the biggest story of the night was The Handmaid's Tale's triumphant evening. Following the show's wins—including her own—Ann Dowd joined the rest of the cast and crew to celebrate at Hulu’s own post-show soirée at Otium in Downtown L.A.. It was her second night out; the night prior, she had made an appearance at BAFTA Los Angeles’ annual TV Tea Party at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.
“You just hope for the best,” she said of portraying her brutal character Aunt Lydia. “You remember they're human beings so they’re complicated, right? I mean who do we know that’s sheer evil? No one that I know. And so you have to keep in mind, what draws them to this? What’s going on? What do they stand to lose?”
And how do they keep it light on set with such heavy material?
“I mean you gotta laugh,” she said. “It’s four in the damn morning, you’re like, 'What are we doing? We’re adults, and we’re exhausted, and we’re doing this intentionally.'”
And what can we expect for season two?
“I can say this,” jumped in costar Yvonne Strahovski, who was standing close by. “Bruce Miller has said this to me, that there’s so much more in the book that they—although we’ve covered the book in the first season—that there’s so much more to derive from it still. He said, literally, I can take a sentence from the book and write a whole episode.”