LOS ANGELES (AP) – Donald Glover won for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series and for outstanding directing for a comedy series for Atlanta, which he created and which carries his distinctive voice.
Glover was the first Black director to win the comedy award.
“I want to thank Trump for making Black people No. 1 on the most oppressed list. He’s the reason I’m probably up here,” Glover said, acknowledging the entertainment industry’s and the Emmys’ tilt toward the political under President Donald Trump.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was honored Sunday for a sixth time for her role as a self-absorbed politician in the comedy Veep, named best comedy for the third time.
Combined with Emmys that Louis-Dreyfus has won for Seinfeld and New Adventures of Old Christine, her latest trophy tied her with Cloris Leachman as the most-winning Emmy performer ever.
Saturday Night Live triumphed early for a season of skewering President Donald Trump, while the ceremony and host Stephen Colbert did likewise.
“I remember the first time we won this award,” creator Lorne Michaels said in accepting the show’s trophy for best variety sketch series. “It was after the first season in 1976. I remember thinking … this was the high point,” and there would never be “another season as crazy, as unpredictable, as frightening, as exhausting or as exhilarating. Turns out I was wrong.”
The trophies for best supporting comedy acting went to Kate McKinnon, who played Hillary Clinton on SNL, and Alec Baldwin for his Trump portrayal on the NBC show.
McKinnon thanked Clinton for her “grace and grit.” Baldwin spoke directly to Trump, who has complained in the past that he was cheated out of a trophy for hosting Celebrity Apprentice: “I suppose I should say, ‘At long last, Mr. President, here is your Emmy.”’
Melissa McCarthy was honored at last weekend’s creative arts Emmys as best guest actress for her SNL work, including portraying Sean Spicer. The former White House press secretary made a surprise Emmys appearance, wheeling in his own podium.
“This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period. Both in person and around the world,” Spicer shouted with authority, echoing his claim that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the biggest ever and evoking McCarthy’s manic portrayal of him.
Colbert’s song-and-dance opening – with help from Chance the Rapper – included the song Everything Is Better on TV, which repeatedly slammed Trump, mentioning his ties to Russia and including the lyric “even treason is better on TV.”
John Lithgow, who received the best supporting drama actor for his role as British leader Winston Churchill in The Crown, took a more diplomatic approach to political commentary.
“Most of all I have to thank Winston Churchill. In these crazy times, his life, even as an old man, reminds us what courage and leadership in government really looks like,” Lithgow said.
Ann Dowd of The Handmaid’s Tale received the best drama supporting actress award. The series also took awards for best drama writing and directing.
Alexander Skarsgard and Laura Dern were named best supporting actors in a limited series or movie for Big Little Lies.
Lena Waithe became the first African American woman to win an Emmy for comedy series writing, for Master of None, sharing the award with series co-creator Aziz Ansari, who is of Indian heritage.
“The things that make us different, those are superpowers,” Waithe said. “Thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer Black girl from the south side of Chicago,” she said, basking in a standing ovation from the theater audience.
Sterling K. Brown became the first Black actor in nearly 20 years to win for lead actor in a drama.
Riz Ahmed became the first Asian man to win an acting Emmy for his role in The Night Of, for which he won best actor in a limited series or movie.
TV academy President and CEO Hayma Washington paid tribute to TV’s increasing diversity. That was reflected in the record number of African American continuing series acting nominees, but series with predominantly African American actors were limited to one sitcom while Latinos were overlooked and Ansari was the only Asian American contender.
The Voice won the reality competition category. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver won the award for variety talk series, prompting also-rans Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel.
A victory by NBC’s This Is Us, the first network drama series to be nominated since CBS’ The Good Wife in 2011, would prove that broadcasters can compete with the more adventurous premium cable and streaming platforms that target niche audiences. No network series has won in the category since 24 in 2006.
With previous two-time winner Game of Thrones absent because it fell outside the eligibility window, This Is Us and The Handmaid’s Tale are among an unprecedented number of newcomers that include The Crown, Stranger Things and Westworld. Repeat contenders Better Call Saul and House of Cards round out the field.
Among comedy nominees, the political satire Veep is a favored again after two consecutive wins.
Veep is competing with Atlanta, black-ish, Master of None, Silicon Valley, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Modern Family, which, with five previous wins in the category, is tied with Frasier for most top-series awards ever.