The stars may have stayed at home for Sunday evening’s Emmy Awards, which nominees attended remotely via videoconference. But social-distancing protocol didn’t stop a number of them from making a statement with their outfit choices, especially when it came to those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Regina King was the first example, wearing a bright-pink suit jacket over with a shirt printed with Breonna Taylor’s name and image. King spoke to reporters about the importance of representing and remembering Taylor, who was killed by police in March.
“The cops still haven’t been held accountable. She represents decades, hundreds of years of just, violence against black bodies, Breonna Taylor does,” King said to reporters in the virtual press room after accepting her Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Limited Series for HBO’s Watchmen. “Wearing Breonna’s likeness, representing her and her family and what, the things that, the stories that we were exploring, that we were presenting, that we were holding a mirror up to in Watchmen, it felt appropriate to represent with Breonna Taylor.”
King continued, “I love being a Black woman, I loved being a Black girl, I love being American, and it’s important that people see all of those things together and when you have the platform to celebrate that and remind those that tend to look past Black girls, Black women ... you take it, you seize it … and when I saw my sister Uzo had on [a similar] shirt, it was a confirmation that this was right.”
King was referring to fellow Emmy-winning actress Uzo Aduba, who “took home” Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her turn as Shirley Chisholm in Hulu’s Mrs. America.
Aduba paid tribute to the 26-year-old EMT by wearing a shirt that solely featured Taylor’s name. Taylor’s death was one that contributed to the spike in protests over police brutality and the unjust killings of Black men and women in the U.S. Still, other actors shed light on the larger movement with their looks.
Appearing onstage to present the evening’s final award, Sterling K. Brown also wore a T-shirt under a black suit jacket. His shirt featured a raised fist and the letters “BLM.” The powerful graphic alone also appeared on Emmy-nominee Yvonne Orji, who had the symbol shaved into her hair.
Killing Eve actress Sandra Oh sported a custom bomber jacket to express how she was feeling. “After George Floyd’s death and the protests that followed, I felt that as an Asian-American, a Korean-American person, I wanted to express my support for the Black community in a way that felt personal to my community,” Oh, nominated for best actress in a drama, explained to British Vogue. “Then, a playwright friend of mine sent me this local L.A. brand, KORELIMITED, by the designer Matthew Kim, who had done a line of T-shirts and hoodies to support Black Lives Matter.” Oh contacted Kim and the garment that resulted featured several personal touches. “It’s in a royal purple color — which is a super Korean color and brings a certain mindset for me — and it says ‘Black Lives Are Precious’ in Korean writing, because the literal translation of Black Lives Matter is impossible in Korean."
Watchmen creator Damon Lindelof used a portion of his acceptance speech for Outstanding Limited Series to combat social injustice when he wore a shirt reading “Remember Tulsa ’21.” The shirt refers to the Tulsa Race Massacre, which is heavily featured in the award-winning show.
“We dedicate this award to the victims and survivors of the Tulsa massacre of 1921,” Lindelof said. “The fires that destroyed Black Wall Street still burn today. The only way to put the fires out is if we all fight them together.”
With Sunday night’s Emmys, the Television Academy gave a record number of awards to Black performers. The seven wins by Black actors — including King and Aduba — tops the previous record high of six, set in 2018.
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