5 Wins At The 2023 Emmys That Made History

The future is colourful
By: Astrid Zulhaime
January 17, 2024

The world is ever-changing and it’s good to see that Hollywood is no exception, even if it’s long overdue. The 2023 Emmys celebrated a landmark moment for diversity, tying the 1991 record with five acting awards given to performers of colour. This sparked elation all across social media—it’s one thing to include people of colour in the media, it’s another to recognise and award their talents.

The ceremony included historic firsts like wins for both lead and supporting actress in the comedy category going to Black women in the same year, and two Asian American actors claiming lead acting accolades, marking a significant step towards more inclusive recognition in television. Here are five wins at the 2023 Emmys that will go down in history.

The Biggest Moments at the 2023 Emmys

1. Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary

Decades after Isabel Sanford’s historic win for The Jeffersons way back in 1981, Quinta Brunson became only the second Black woman to claim the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy for her captivating performance as Janine Teagues in the breakout hit Abbott Elementary. We can’t help but raise our eyebrows a little at how long it took to reach this milestone, Television Academy.

This marked Brunson’s second Emmy but the first one for acting as she previously took home the statuette for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series last year, both awards recognizing her incredible work on Abbott Elementary. We love a multi-talented queen.

2. Ayo Edebiri, The Bear

Marking the first time in Emmys history that both comedy acting awards by female performers went to Black women, Ayo Edebiri won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Sydney Adamu in The Bear. Edebiri’s first Emmy win follows her previous wins for the same role at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards—all within the span of a week. She’s on fire!

With her most recent win, Edebiri joins the ranks of screen legends Jackée Harry and Sheryl Lee Ralph (who also won for her role in Abbott Elementary in 2022) as only the third Black woman to snag the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

3. Beef

Thanks to Netflix’s brilliant dark comedy series Beef, Asians had plenty of reasons to celebrate at this year’s Emmys as well. For her role as Amy Lau in Netflix’s Beef, Ali Wong became the first Asian woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series. Her co-star, Steven Yeun, became only the third Asian to take home the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series Emmy after Darren Criss and Riz Ahmed. 

If that’s not enough, Beef creator Lee Sung Jin nabbed the Outstanding Directing, Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, becoming the first Asian to win all three categories in the same year. In total, Beef won a whopping eight awards during the ceremony—so Netflix, when should we expect the announcement for a second season?

4. Elton John, Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium

Sir Elton John etched his name into entertainment history by joining the elite EGOT club as the 19th person to win all four major awards. He clinched the coveted Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special with his emotional farewell concert, “Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium.” He was unable to attend the ceremony as he recently underwent a knee operation, which explains why the special’s executive producer, Gabe Turner, accepted the award on John’s behalf.

This prestigious honour adds to his impressive collection of five Grammys, two Oscars, and a Tony, solidifying his status as a true legend across music, film, and theatre. Sir Elton John may not be the first LGBT performer to receive EGOT status (that honour belongs to John Gielgud) but his win was historic all the same.

5. Niecy Nash-Betts, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

When Niecy Nash-Betts won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for her role as Glenda Cleveland in “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” five out of the twelve acting awards at the ceremony were given to people of colour. This marks only the second time this diverse outcome has occurred, the first being at the 1991 Emmys. 

Congratulations to Brunson, Edebiri, Wong, Yeun, and Nash-Betts not only for their individual awards but also for creating this landmark moment in television awards history. The Television Academy also deserves a pat on the back as well in hopes that they keep up their good work in honouring people of colour in the future.

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