7 Ways the 2017 Emmys Made History

The 2017 Emmys were so good, we're still not over them, and one reason why the ceremony stood out this year was because of the diverse group of talented winners. This year's Emmys were full of historic firsts for women, people of color, and for the television industry itself. Whether it was Julia Louis-Dreyfus setting a record that's going to be hard to beat or Riz Ahmed becoming the first Asian man to ever win an Emmy, the night was full of progressive moments that made TV fans cheer.

While these moments of progress deserve to be celebrated, it should be noted that the Emmys and the television industry still have a long way to go before they even begin to approach equality. A 2016 University of Southern California study found that only 19 percent of TV shows had ethnically balanced casts, and representation of women of color over the age of 40 was practically nonexistent. The study also found that just 22 percent of shows came from female creators. These numbers should act as a reminder that even though the TV landscape is becoming more diverse, it's a slow process.

Still, there's no denying that progress is being made, and that progress is reflected in the huge wins for people of color, women, and non-traditional TV platforms which are more likely to feature diverse shows. Let's take a look at all of the important moments that made the 2017 Emmys one for the history books.


Riz Ahmed Wins Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

When Ahmed bounded up on stage to receive the Emmy for his work in HBO's The Night Of, he became the first male actor of Asian descent to ever take home an Emmy for acting. In fact, he was only the second person of Asian descent to win an acting Emmy ever.
The Good Wife's Archie Panjabi became the first in 2010.


Lena Waithe Wins Best Writing for a Comedy Series

For perspective, the Television Academy has been handing out Emmys for 69 years, and it took until 2017 for a woman of color to win an Emmy for comedy writing. Waithe became the first when she won, alongside her co-writer Aziz Ansari, for the Master of None episode "Thanksgiving." The episode is based on Waithe's own experiences of coming out as a lesbian to her family, and during her speech she urged her LGBTQIA family to "go out there and conquer the world."


Donald Glover Wins Best Director for a Comedy Series

Glover's FX series Atlanta is a groundbreaking comedy, and thankfully, Emmy voters took notice. When his named was called as Best Director for his work on the episode "B.A.N.," Glover became the first black man to win the award for directing a comedy series. It should also be noted that he was the first black man since 1985 to win best actor in a comedy, as well.


Reed Morano Wins Best Director for a Drama Series

Not only does Morano hold to the distinction of being the youngest member to be induced into the American Society of Cinematographers, thanks to her work on The Handmaid's Tale, she also became the first woman to win for directing a drama series since 1995.


Sterling K. Brown Wins Best Actor in a Drama Series

Brown's mesmerizing work as Randall Pearson on This Is Us nabbed him the award for best actor in a drama. In the process, he became the first black actor to take home the award since Andre Braugher in 1998.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus Sets an Emmy Record

With her sixth consecutive win for Veep, Louis-Dreyfus officially entered the history books. The acclaimed actor holds the record for most consecutive wins, most wins for the same role in the same series, and she's the only female actor to win Emmys for three different comedy roles (Elaine Benes in Seinfeld, Christine Campbell in The New Adventures of Old Christine, and Selina Meyer in Veep).


The Handmaid's Tale Wins Best Drama

The Handmaid's Tale became the first streaming series to ever win best drama. While many believed Netflix would be the first streaming service to secure this achievement, it was Hulu, and they did it with a dystopian story about the horrors that come with the loss of female autonomy and reproductive freedom.

Television isn't a perfectly inclusive medium just yet, but the 2017 Emmys did a superb job at honoring stories from diverse and progressive voices. Let's hope the 2018 Emmys makes history all over again.