Uzo Aduba and Viola Davis Make History At The Most Feminist Emmy Awards Ever

I can never decide whether to watch the Emmy Awards or punch myself in the face. Both things hurt my head, but at least the second thing saves me from having to watch an endless parade of straight white men accept awards for playing and directing and writing about straight white men on TV, and I’m in bed by 10:00. Tonight’s Emmys, however — the 67th Primetime ones — were a lot less like self-inflicted tortured and a lot more like church! For starters, Uzo Aduba and Viola Davis made history by becoming the first black woman to win an Emmy for playing the same character in two different genres and the first black woman to win Best Actress, respectively. Regina King also (finally!) won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role in American Crime. This is the first time three black women have won Emmys in the same year.

Viola Davis quoted Harriet Tubman in her acceptance speech before dropping this truth on the audience: “Let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” Kerry Washington and Taraji P Henson — who were also nominated in the category — were moved to tears in the crowd while Davis spoke.

The incomparable Uzo Aduba raced through a list of cast and crew and friends and family before being overcome with emotion during her acceptance speech, thanking Jenji Kohan “because you let me be me.”

But the fun didn’t stop there! Openly queer writers/directors Lisa Cholodenko (who you probably know most from The Kids Are All Right, but who also wrote the episode of The L Word that introduced us to Peggy Peabody) and Jane Anderson (who you probably remember from If These Walls Could Talk 2) won Emmys for Best Directing and Best Writing for Olive Kitteridge. Jill Soloway also took home a Best Directing Emmy for Transparent‘s “Best New Girl,” meaning that two out of three Directing trophies awarded to individual people were won by women. (Another record!) In her acceptance speech, Soloway noted that 32 states can legally discriminate against her Moppa, and urged viewers to visit to show their support for the Equality Act. “We don’t have a trans tipping point,” she said, “we have a trans civil rights problem.” She also delivered the Emmys’ first and only Male Gaze joke!

Other queer things: Bessie won Best Television Movie; Jane Lynch won Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program for Hollywood Game Night; and Transparent picked up two acting wins for Jeffrey Tambor and Bradley Whitford, whose Emmys Mey Rude has graciously agreed to house since they were dedicated to her.

Other feminist highlights:

Andy Samberg’s opening monologue:

“The wage gap between men and women hired for major roles in Hollywood is still an issue. Wait, I’m sorry, I misread that. The age gap between men and women hired for major roles in Hollywood is still an issue. Wait, I misread that. It’s both. Still both. So crappy on two fronts.”

Amy Poehler presenting the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Award:

“What an exciting two to four hours for women in comedy.”

Taraji P. Henson, all night long!

The Social Medias

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#TeamOrange family :-). #oitnb

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And then this happened #jamieleecurtis #fuckyeahemmys

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The Full List of Winners

Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Orange Is the New Black
Game of Thrones
Downton Abbey
House of Cards
Mad Men

Outstanding Comedy Series
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation 
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Khandi Alexander, Scandal
Rachel Brosnahan, House of Cards
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Margo Martindale, The Americans
Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones
Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away With Murder

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Niecy Nash, Getting On

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Pamela Adlon, Louie
Elizabeth Banks, Modern Family
Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Joan Cusack, Shameless
Tina Fey, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Gaby Hoffmann, Girls

Outstanding Actress in a Mini-series or Movie
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Queen Latifah, Bessie
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Emma Thompson, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Live From Lincoln Center

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Zoe Kazan, Olive Kitteridge
Regina King, American Crime
Mo’Nique, Bessie
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or a Dramatic Special
American Horror Story: Freak Show, Ryan Murphy
Bessie, Dee Rees
Houdini, Uli Edel
Olive Kitteridge, Lisa Cholodenko
The Honorable Woman, Hugo Blick
The Missing, Tom Shankland
Wolf Hall, Peter Kosminsky

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or a Dramatic Special
American Crime, “Episode One,” John Ridley
Bessie, Dee Rees, Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois, and Horton Foote
Hello Ladies: The Movie, Stephen Merchant, Gene Stupnitsky, and Lee Eisenberg
Olive Kitteridge, Jane Anderson
The Honorable Woman, Hugo Blick
Wolf Hall, Peter Straughan

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Louie, “Sleepover,” Louis C.K.
Silicon Valley, “Sand Hill Shuffle,” Mike Judge
The Last Man on Earth, “Alive in Tucson (Pilot),” Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Transparent, “Best New Girl,” Jill Soloway
Veep, “Testimony,” Armando Iannucci

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
The Voice
Top Chef
Dancing With the Stars
The Amazing Race
So You Think You Can Dance
Project Runway

Outstanding Variety Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight
Late Show With David Letterman
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
The Daily Show

The Colbert Report
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series
James Hoskinson, The Colbert Report
Chuck O’Neil, The Daily Show
Amy Schumer and Ryan McFaul, Inside Amy Schumer
Jerry Foley, Late Show With David Letterman
Dave Diomedi, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Drunk History
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Limited Series
American Crime
American Horror Story: Freak Show
The Honorable Woman 
Olive Kitteridge 
Wolf Hall

Outstanding Actor in a Mini-series or Movie
Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
David Oyelowo, Nightingale
Adrien Brody, Houdini
Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall
Ricky Gervais, Derek

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Episodes, “Episode 409,” David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik
Louie, “Bobby’s House,” Louis C.K.
Silicon Valley, “Two Days of the Condor,” Alec Berg
The Last Man on Earth, “Alive in Tucson (Pilot),” Will Forte
Transparent, “Pilot,” Jill Soloway
Veep, “Election Night,” Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire, “Eldorado,” Tim Van Patten
Game of Thrones, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” Jeremy Podeswa
Game of Thrones, “Mother’s Mercy,” David Nutter
Homeland, “From A to B and Back Again,” Lesli Linka Glatter
The Knick, “Method and Madness,” Steven Soderbergh

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Better Call Saul, “Five-O,” Gordon Smith
Game of Thrones, “Mother’s Mercy,” David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Mad Men, “Lost Horizon,” Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner
Mad Men, “Person to Person,” Matthew Weiner
The Americans, “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” Joshua Brand

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
F. Murray Abraham, Homeland
Alan Alda, The Blacklist
Beau Bridges, Masters of Sex
Reg E. Cathey, House of Cards
Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife
Pablo Schreiber, Orange Is the New Black

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
William H. Macy, Shameless
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver, Girls
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, Veep

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Mel Brooks, The Comedians
Louis C.K., Saturday Night Live
Paul Giamatti, Inside Amy Schumer
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live
Jon Hamm, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Bradley Whitford, Transparent

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
Richard Cabral, American Crime
Denis O’Hare, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall
Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Michael Kenneth Williams, Bessie
Finn Wittrock, American Horror Story: Freak Show

Your move, Oscars.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Viola’s speech (and Kerry’s tears) made me cry. I know people are upset that their favorites–mainly Tatiana–didn’t win, but this was such a historical moment, and that speech was so wonderful. Speeches like Viola’s tonight, and Gina Rodriguez’s at the Globes, are reminders of all the work that has been done, and all the work we still need to do.

    Also, Taraji’s excitement the entire night was THE BEST.

    • Ever since they announced the nominees I’ve been thinking “Well, I’ve wanted Maslany to win for a while, but dammit if Viola Davis is in the running and doesn’t win I’ll be so freaking mad”. She definitely deserved it. And what a speech!

  2. Shame not to see Sarah Paulson win, she was there with a certain much older, not really out girlfriend and we’ll never know if they would have officially come out as a couple if she’d won.

  3. Tat was robbed yet again by Ameri-centric TV critics. Great for Viola and I know that moment means a lot for a lot of people, but it’s an award for the best acting performance of the past year and that wasn’t her.

    • I majorly disagree. I watch both shows. I am a huge fan of both women. They are both amazing actresses but based on the two performances that were nominated this year Viola had the better material. And that’s coming from someone who has been waiting for Tat to be nominated for three seasons. IMO, the material that Tat was given this season was not on par to what Viola had. It’s also just super-annoyed tonight to see people behave like Viola isn’t deserving of this award at all like she’s not an absolutely amazing actress who has been overlooked for years as well.

      • I know right ? It’s not like the award went to Claire Danes or something ! Viola is a fantastic actress and has been killing it. I can’t be sad Viola won over Tatiana because they both deserved a win.

      • I’m not really upset that Viola won and I’m not going to make this into a big argument or anything because it’s all good. I’ll just say that Tatiana plays most of the characters in her show. She’s in 99% of the scenes. She has to work herself to exhaustion every season because she is literally carrying the entire show. She is her show and there’s no acting job on TV that compares. Great for Viola but I disagree. She didn’t have to do half the work Tatiana does.

        • I watch the show so I know how hard Tatiana has to work. I never denied that. But I”m trying to be objective here since I watch both shows. I understand the Emmy’s decision ultimately. I don’t know a single OB fan, myself included, who though S3 was as good as the previous seasons. So when I compare the writing that Tatiana received compared to the writing Viola received during HTGAWM’s season and the performances that resulted from that Viola ended up with the better material. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t play 12 other characters if the writing makes up for that. I don’t know how anyone could look at the work she did in HTGAWM(or any other performance of hers) and say she doesn’t deserve to win a Best Actress award but we will just have to agree to disagree on that.

          That entire category was stacked with amazing actresses who all did some pretty incredible work so it wouldn’t have made a difference to me who won in the end since I’m a genuine fan of the majority of them. To be honest, I thought Taraji Henson was going to win that category because her role was one of the most talked about roles on tv all season. Besides, it’s not like Tatiana is at home crying over this. She has always said how she wasn’t expecting this at all and was just happy to be included this year. It’s also not like she isn’t going to get nominated for anything ever again or have her pick of roles in the future. But Viola’s win was not just an important win for her but an important win for history and I’m sure Tatiana recognizes that as well. I still can’t believe this is the first time a black woman has ever won that award. It’s 2015 for fucks sake. It says a lot about the state of Hollywood in general, which is why her speech resonated with so many people.

    • Did you watch How To Get Away with Murder? Viola Davis was absolutely incredible in her role. She broke through both gender and racial ceilings as her character and there were so many scenes in that show that blew me away, blew everyone away. Granted, of course she had exceptional writing, as Shonda Rhimes was in charge of that, but she took that writing and made it so much better. She was genuinely stunning.
      She deserved that award one hundred times over.

  4. Regina King has been doing great work for years so I was glad she finally won something. She was one of the best parts of American Crime and just based on some of the clips I’ve seen from The Leftovers she is going to great on that show as well. That woman has definitely put in her dues in Hollywood. She has been acting she was a little kid. It’s amazing she has been around as long as she has and is just now getting recognition.

    Honestly, there were so many amazing women nominated in all the female acting categories this year. It was stiff competition so I don’t get why I am seeing all these salty fans all over the internet acting like any of these women didn’t deserve their awards.

  5. I’m dismayed that Christina Hendricks didn’t finally get what she so deserved over all these years, but, I am also happy that Uzo Aduba got the win.

  6. I teared up watching Viola’s acceptance speech when she gave a shoutout to all the other amazing black women on TV. So powerful to see that kind of support and love.

  7. I was cheering for Tatiana, but I can’t be too mad because Viola deserved it too. And that speech! A+
    I hope Tat will eventually pull a Jon Hamm and win an Emmy when Orphan Black ends, to make up for the ones they unfairly didn’t give her in these years.

    Ps. Game of Thrones winning best drama and writing against Mad Men was ridicolous. I’M OUTRAGED.

  8. I’ve never regretted NOT watching an awards show, and I don’t think I’m having regret now, but it does look like it would have been such an amazing show to watch!! Ugh Viola!

  9. This post makes me feel much better about the Emmys than the Emmys did, I highly recommend this post over actually watching the Emmys! These moments were so amazing and important and precedent-setting and they made me cry and drown in wells of hope and then everything in between was so dull — Mad Men, Veep, Veep, Game of Thrones, HBO. Remember when Mad About You used to win everything? Those were not the days.

  10. Danielle Brooks just slayyyyyyyyyeddddd in her gown; I love it.

    Suzanne is my fave character on OITNB so I’m stoked to see Uzo Abuda’s win, and very happy and excited for Viola Davis as well.

    And yay for Jon Hamm; he deserved it.


    Viola Davis, Taraji Henson, and Regin King made me feel like anything is accomplishable this week.

  12. You guys i keep rewatching Viola Davis’ speech and seeing the faces of Taraji p. Henson and Kerry Washington and I’ve got goosebumps.

    That speech !!!

    • Kerry had on her Olivia Pope cryface. It was amazing. I was also touched by how gracious and excited Taraji was for the other women who won even though she didn’t. That was very classy and earned my respect. It was so awesome to see Viola get up there and actually acknowledge all the other black women who are leading shows right now. They were all so genuinely happy to be included in that historic moment on Twitter right afterwards.

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