The Oscars has long been criticised for its lack of diversity, but the Emmys embraced queer, gender and trans politics on Sunday.
Actor Jeffrey Tambor used his Emmy award acceptance speech for his portrayal of transgender woman Moira Pfefferman in Amazon’s Transparent to call on Hollywood’s network heads, agents and producers to hire more trans actors.
“I’m not going to say this beautifully: to you people out there … please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story,” he declared while accepting the Emmy for best comedy actor.
“I would be happy if I were the last cisgender male to play a transgender female,” added Tambor, who won an Emmy in the same category for the same role last year.
In 2014, Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox became the first openly transgender actor to receive an Emmys nomination, and was introduced as such in while presenting an Emmy for directing on Sunday.
She gave a shout out to Tambor’s speech and echoed his call: “Give trans talent a shot ... I would not be here tonight if I was not given that chance,” she said.
This year Her Story, a web series starring two transgender actors, including its creator Jen Richards, nabbed an Emmy nomination for outstanding short form comedy or drama series, although it did not win.
But, the two first male acting gongs of Emmys night – including Tambor’s win – went to men who play women.
Comedian Louie Anderson took the best supporting actor in a comedy series for his role as Christine Baskets in Baskets, where he plays the mother of Zach Galifianakis’s characters.
“I haven’t always been a very good man, but I play one hell of a woman,” said Anderson in his acceptance speech, who added that his mother inspired his performance.
Emmys Sunday was also a big night for gay women. Jill Solaway, creator and writer of Transparent (who is in a relationship with New York poet Eileen Myles) won the Emmy for best director of a comedy series, Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon took the best comedy actress gong and Sarah Paulson (girlfriend of actor Holland Taylor) took home the Emmy for best actress in a limited series.
When accepting her award for Transparent, the first show to center on a family dealing with trans issues, Soloway spoke of her joy of being part of a queer TV revolution.
“It’s a privilege, and it also creates privilege: when you take women, people of color, trans people, queer people and you put them at the center of the story, these subjects, instead of the objects, you change the world, we found out. We found out!” said Soloway.
I’ve always wanted to be part of a movement, the civil rights movement, the feminist movement. This TV show allows me to take my dreams about unlikable Jewish people, queer folk, trans folk, and make them the heroes. Thank you to the trans community for your lived lives. We need to stop violence against transgender women and topple the patriarchy! Topple the patriarchy!
After Soloway walked off, host Jimmy Kimmel quipped: “I’m trying to figure out if ‘topple the patriarchy is a good thing for me or not?’ I don’t think it is.”