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Debbie Allen, RuPaul, And Michaela Coel All Made Black History At The Emmy's

Debbie Allen, RuPaul, And Michaela Coel All Made Black History At The Emmy's

Black people made Emmy History last night!

On Sunday night, the 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards were hosted by comedian Cedric The Entertainer in downtown Los Angeles. There were Black people nominated in every category, 37 in total, and three people had historic wins at the 73rd annual awards. The iconic Debbie Allen became the first Black woman to receive the Governor's Award, RuPaul Charles became the most-awarded Black person - and game show host - in the show's history, and Michaela Coel became the first Black woman to win for best writing in a limited series.

Debbie Allen

Allen was honored for her contributions to television as an actress, writer, producer, director, and choreographer. The Academy recognized her "unprecedented achievements in television and her commitment to inspire and engage marginalized youth through dance, theater arts, and mentorship."

According to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences website, the board of Governors bestows the annual award to "individual for outstanding achievement in the arts and sciences which is either of a cumulative nature or so extraordinary and universal in nature as to go beyond the scope of the Emmy Awards presented in the categories and areas of the competition." In her long and storied career, the multi-hyphenate star has received 20 Emmy nominations with five wins on top of the Governor's Award. She is also a two-time Tony Award winner who's been an artist in residence at the Kennedy Center for 15 years and choreographed the Emmy Awards Ceremony a whopping ten times.

In an emotional speech where she hilariously brushed off the show timer, she told the crowd that it took courage for her to be the only woman in the room. "A lot of courage and creativity and fight and faith to believe that I could keep going, and I have." The Howard University graduate thanked the Academy, her family, and people like Steven Spielberg and Shonda Rhimes, who've given her opportunities to shine. "I share this honor with so many people…everyone who has given me the opportunity to BE Debbie Allen; those who understand me and have supported everything I try to do."

She ended her speech with a powerful message to women, young people, and their allies worldwide to use their voice and power to change the world.

"Let this moment resonate with women across the world and across this country, from Texas to Afghanistan," said Allen during her acceptance speech. "For young people, who have no vote, who can't even get a vaccine—they're inheriting the world that we live in and will leave them. It's time for you to claim your power. Claim your voice, sing your song, tell your stories. It will make us a better place. Your turn."

RuPaul Charles


VH1's "RuPaul's Drag Race" has turned into a cultural phenomenon, and last night it took home a trophy for outstanding competition program. The television show has 48 nominations, and 24 Emmy wins overall. The trailblazing televised drag competition has won in this category since 2016, and this latest win gave RuPaul his 11th Emmy. He is now the most decorated Black person in Emmy Awards history, an honor previously held by cinematographer Donald A. Morgan. And the most decorated competition program host, surpassing "Survivor's" Jeff Probst.

Before the ceremony, he spoke to "SNL" performer Bowen Yang for the LA Times to discuss the possibility of him making history. "I have all the scars to show you from a career in show business," he said. "I climbed up on stage, the first time for money, in 1982, and I've been doing it ever since. It's been a long, hard road, but I have enjoyed every minute of it."

In his acceptance speech, he thanked the Academy, Viacom, CBS, and sent a word of encouragement to those struggling living with their LGBTQIA+ identity.
"Thanks to all of our lovely children on our show from around the world," he continued. "You know, they are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life [that was more difficult this year]. This is for you and for you kids out there watching. Come to Mama Ru."

Michaela Coel

As the breakthrough star and creator of "Chewing Gum," Michaela Coel's name has been buzzing around Hollywood for several years. However, her semi-autobiographical dramatic limited series, "I May Destroy You," had been lauded by critics and viewers as one of the best shows last year.

Although the Golden Globes snubbed her with no nominations, her nine Emmy nominations and historic win recognize the importance of her groundbreaking show. The limited HBO series features a predominantly Black British cast and follows writer Arabella, played by Coel, navigating life after a sexual assault. It also tackles complex topics of racism, homophobia, rape culture, and toxic relationships while shining a bright light on the Black experience. In her acceptance speech, Coel dared writers to "write the tale that scares you."

"In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success," she said. "Do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence."

She closed out her powerful speech by dedicated her award to survivors of sexual assault.

Each of these winners used their platform to share a message of love and support. We love it!

As always, we're rooting for everybody Black and love watching you win!

Photo Credit: Getty Images