How the Emmys Celebrate Talent and Create a Platform for Change

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sarah G. Schmidt's home

TV's biggest award night was this past Sunday. The Academy rewarded the crème del la crème at the annual Emmys. The anticipation, expectations, and disappointments for who will win run high. So does my style curiosity as I relish in seeing the looks on the red carpet.

Many critics argue that the best entertainment is not on the Hollywood big screen, rather it’s at home right in your television. To me it’s no surprise why. Television has the times to develop characters over the course of many episodes whereas most movies try that in less than two hours. The stories told on TV are more relevant and nuanced (do we really need another remake on the big screen with a silent female?). Characters come from many backgrounds, ethnicities, perspectives yet they unite us in the human experience. Hollywood movies are simply not making diversity as much of a priority. They are not telling new stories, just more of the same. #OscarsSoWhite, anyone?

Sunday night we got to celebrate and be dazzled. Not only by interested style choices – yay! – but also with what the stars gave a voice to. It’s no surprise, as I’ve wrote about it time and time again that it is not enough for me to praise you for what you wear. To earn my praise you have to use your stardom for good. You need to say something worth saying.

I’m pleased that many stars delivered.

I squealed out loud when I learned that Saskatchewan’s own Tatiana Maslany won for her portrayal of multiple clone characters on Orphan Black. Her Alexander Wang dress was simple and lovely. I hope that the red colour of it was a nod to the True White North? A fellow Saskatchewan gal can dream, right?

Kerry Washington has been subtle yet steady in adding her voice to diversifying entertainment. She went all out Sunday night breaking all the made-up-and-total-bullshit-rules about what a pregnant woman can wear. That dress, with its cape and side cut-outs was structurally spectacular. I also loved the free flowing curls that gave a sort of “F you” to the notion that hair must be straight and sleek to be good. Ask Beyoncé or Chris Rock for more details on that. 

Impeccably graceful and articulate is a way to describe Laverne Cox. As she presented an award she reminded the audience that including trans people in entertainment is so important. She urged us all to “give trans people a shot.” Seeing is believing. Inducing trans people’s stories is just one proof point that there is so much more that we could see. So many other stories waiting to be told. It was a wonderful moment to also see Transparent creator Jill Soloway win for her work. She declared that Emmy’s wins help to “topple the patriarchy” that have historically left many behind.

Standout wins for the fellas include Rami Malek for his work on Mr. Robot. It is so cool that kids today not only know how to pronounce his name accurately and look up to him, that they too know that you don’t have to play a caricature just because you are a visible minority actor. TV leads can and are being cast by all types of men.

I was also thrilled that Aziz Ansari and Alan Wang won for their comedic talents writing Master of None. The show leans into talking about cultural differences and the ridiculous racial stereotypes and tropes that exist out there while making the viewer feel that they can relate. That they can be a part of it. That inclusion is a writing gift. And Aziz’s suit was my best dressed male. He proves that no matter your size one can wear the shit out of your clothes.

My pick for the best dressed of the night was Sarah Paulson in that green deep plunging stunner with the bold shoulder. She won for her role as Marcia Clark in American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Her guest for the night was the real Marcia Clark. As she describe in her acceptance speech inviting Clark for the night was her effort to apologize to Clark. Paulson wanted to say sorry on behalf of women for the way she was portrayed unfairly during the actual trial. Cheers for standing up to our wrong doing and double cheers to that look.

Finally my favourite part of the night was Leslie Jones explaining that the desire to feel beautiful is normal and natural. She also, in a way that only she can pull off, managed to shame people that tried to use her stolen, personal pictures – and her body – against her. She just keeps getting back up. That deep turquoise jumpsuit flattered her skin so nicely too. Bonus.

As the other night showcases – or just simply what I believe to be true - style is best when it accompanies a person with substance. Yay Emmys for giving us a good excuse to be proud.