Emmys 2019 best speeches: Michelle Williams calls out pay inequality, Patricia Arquette makes plea for trans people

FP Staff

Sep 23, 2019 12:33:41 IST

The 71st Primetime Emmys witnessed a wonderful mix of television memorials (Veep and Game of Thrones), incredible speeches, and surprise wins. While Hollywood award winners often use their platforms to take a stand around social causes, the speeches on Sunday night felt more powerful than usual because they were entwined the personal with the political.

Patricia Arquette called attention to the persecution of trans people by tearfully dedicating the trophy to her late sister Alexis, who was an actor and transgender activist. Michelle Williams stumped for equal pay by describing how the executives behind Fosse/Verdon empowered her performance.

From fabulous first-time winners to heartfelt acceptance speeches, here are some of the highs of the 71st annual Emmy Awards broadcast.

Michelle Williams calls out pay inequality

Michelle Williams, who took home the award for Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie at the 2019 Emmys for her role as Gwen Verdon on FX's Fosse/Verdon, chose the moment to speak about equal pay.

Accepting her award from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Williams said that the win felt like "an acknowledgment of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them and respected enough that they'll be heard."

"When I asked for more dance classes I heard, 'Yes'; more voice lessons, 'Yes'; a different wig, a pair of fake teeth not made of rubber, 'Yes.' All of these things they require effort and they cost more money but my bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honour Gwen Verdon," she added.

She also thanked FX and Fox 21st Studios for paying her the same as her co-star Sam Rockwell, who stars as Bob Fosse, saying that "they understood that when you put value in a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value and where do they put that value? They put it into their work."

Williams added, "Next time a woman, and especially a woman of colour, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart -- tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her, because one day she might stand in front of you and say, 'Thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it'."

Billy Porter creates history with his win for Pose

Billy Porter took home the trophy of best actor in drama for his role in Pose at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, becoming the first openly gay, black man, to win the prize. In his acceptance speech, the actor quoted from James Baldwin's 1960 essay 'They Can't Turn Back'.

"It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I'd been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as if I had a right to be here," Porter said as he recited Baldwin.

"I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right," he added. The actor concluded his speech with a call to action, "We are the people. We as artists are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet. Please don't ever stop doing that. Please don't ever stop telling the truth." he said.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge gives a nod to her 'pervy, angry, dirty' nature writing in her acceptance speech

“Oh my God. I’m really shaking. I had something to say … what was it? Oh yes. I find writing really, really hard and really painful. But I’d like to say honestly from the bottom of my heart that’s the reason that I do it is this. So it’s made it all really worth it. Thank you so much … And it’s just really wonderful to know and reassuring that dirty, pervy, angry, messed up women can make it to the Emmys.” she says.

Patricia Arquette makes a plea for trans people in her emotional speech

Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) talks about the passing of her sister Alexis Arquette and the persecution of trans people during her acceptance speech for lead actress in a limited series.
"I’m grateful to at 50 be getting the greatest parts of my life. In my heart, I’m so sad. I lost my sister Alexis. And that trans people are still being persecuted. And I’m in mourning every day of my life, Alexis. And I will be for the rest of my life, for you, until we change the world so that trans people are not persecuted. And give them jobs. They’re human beings. Let’s give them jobs. Let’s get rid of the bias that we have everywhere.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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Updated Date: Sep 23, 2019 12:33:41 IST