'The things that make us different – those are our superpowers.'
Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde
This year, every glitzy awards ceremony from the Oscars to the Grammys has been packed full of political punches. Celebrities have used their acceptance speeches to share their thoughts on everything from climate change, to Planned Parenthood. The 2017 Emmy awards was no different, with many A-list guests continuing to show their support for American Civil Liberties Union by wearing blue ribbons, and Nicole Kidman dedicating her award to domestic violence survivors.
But one of the biggest moments of the night came when actress, producer and screenwriter Lena Waithe made history by becoming the first African-American woman to win the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series award, and her acceptance speech earned her a standing ovation – and a lot of proud tears.
The exceptionally talented Lena co-wrote an episode of Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s Netflix sitcom about a thirty-something Indian-American actor living in New York. As well as starring in the show as the hilarious and straight-talking Denise, she penned Thanksgiving, an episode in the show’s second season which sees her character coming out to her family.
Not only was Lena the first African-American woman to ever be nominated for this award, but this widely acclaimed episode, which was based on her own experience of coming out as a lesbian, won her the coveted Emmy.
Upon being announced the winner alongside her co-star, Aziz, the pair proudly accepted their award together. In her incredibly moving acceptance speech, Lena said: ‘I want to thank my mother for inspiring the story and allowing me to share it with the world.
‘My LGBTQIA family. I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different – those are our superpowers.
‘Every day when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world. Because the world would not be as beautiful as it is without us in it.
‘And for everybody out there that showed us so much love for this episode, thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a little queer black girl from the Southside of Chicago.’
After the show, Lena spoke to Variety backstage and explained that she hoped the win would inspire women of colour who want to pursue a career in the industry.
‘It says that it is possible,’ she said. ‘There’s so many other funny women of colour. I hope they will now have an opportunity because this door has been opened.’