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‘You do have a platform ... Seize it’: The 12 best quotes from the Emmys pressroom

Emmy winner Regina King in a screen grab from "E! Countdown to the Red Carpet."
(E! Entertainment)

After their nationally televised acceptance speeches, some of the Emmy winners had more to say to the press.

The Times was there in the TV Academy’s virtual pressroom to hear their thoughts, as many elaborated on political statements made during the telecast about the movement for Black lives, diversity and representation in Hollywood and more. Here are 12 of the most notable.

The following remarks have been condensed and edited for clarity.

At Sunday’s Emmys, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Breonna Taylor were remembered. Winners encouraged viewers to vote. And essential workers grounded the show.

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Uzo Aduba

Uzo Aduba won for supporting actress in a limited series at the 72nd Annual Emmy Awards.
Shirley you can’t be serious: Uzo Aduba, pictured in a screen grab from the telecast of the 72nd Emmy Awards, won as supporting actress in a limited series for portraying trailblazing politician Shirley Chisholm in “Mrs. America.”
(ABC)

The “Orange Is the New Black” star added a third Emmy to her collection this year with her win for supporting actress in a limited series for playing the first Black congresswoman and presidential candidate, Shirley Chisholm, in “Mrs. America.” She and fellow winner Regina King wore shirts commemorating the late Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police executing a no-knock warrant on her home in Louisville, Ky.

On joining Regina King in paying tribute to Breonna Taylor:
Regina is who she says she is. It’s my favorite thing about her. … I loved when I saw her shirt and her standing in it with such strength and power that we all know that she has. She’s a born leader and it made me so happy to see her wear it.

On what she would say to Chisholm, who died in 2005, if she could:
“Thank you for doing the hard things. Thank you for making it OK to be oneself.” In a time when, for women, for Black women or women of color who were supposed to occupy a very narrow amount of space, she was not afraid to dare and live up to the fullness of her potential. Whether we knew it or not, her doing that carved out room that we all were desperate for.

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On her reaction to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
Devastating. Absolutely devastating. Someone you want to say “thank you” to. It’s important to put in context the time in which these women are existing. ... When you think about a woman who was born in the 1930s, who was part of the Harvard Law Review, who graduated from Cornell, graduated first in her class at Columbia Law School, worked with the ACLU, made advancements with women, whether it was with reproductive rights or whether it was with pay or — the list goes on and on — the second woman in the Supreme Court … these are remarkable historical events that changed and shaped the pathway for every single person who comes after them. ... She will be forever missed. Those are some mighty shoulders she had and that she carried a lot on. We thank her for carrying that weight for us. I thank her.

We followed “Succession” star Nicholas Braun (a.k.a. Cousin Greg) as the HBO series took home best drama at the virtual Emmys. Here’s what it was like.

Jesse Armstrong

Jesse Armstrong, center, won for writing and for drama series "Succession" at the 72nd Emmy Awards.
The sweet smell of “Succession”: Jesse Armstrong, center, won for writing and for drama series at the 72nd Emmy Awards.
(ABC)

The executive producer of “Succession” won twice, for drama series and for writing. He accepted from London in a room with collaborators at a safe distance behind him. He had harshly criticized President Trump and U.K. Prime Mister Boris Johnson in his speech with a series of “un-thank yous” for their coronavirus responses.

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On his plans for celebrating:
We’re going to hopefully be going to breakfast. It’s 4 a.m. and in case anything positive happened, I didn’t drink anything. Now I’m hoping for a Champagne breakfast with this lovely group of writers and fellow executives on the show.

On addressing the need for inclusion and diversity in media on “Succession”:
The aim is necessary, overdue, cathartic when you see it happening. Our show is about a white family who are billionaires, media moguls. There are some things we can do on the show [in regards to diversity] and some things we can’t. … There are places we can show what America looks like in our show, the broader picture of America, and there are places where, frankly, that would not be reflecting reality if we made our central world more diverse than the higher echelons of corporate America are.

HBO’s “Watchmen,” winner of the best limited series Emmy, connected directly with the nation’s fervor over racism, police brutality and Black Lives Matter.

Regina King

Regina King collected her fourth career trophy at the 72nd Emmy Awards.
It’s good to be Regina King: The actress collected her fourth career Emmy, this time for lead actress in a limited series, for her work in “Watchmen.” She’s pictured here in a screen grab from “E! Countdown to the Red Carpet.”
(E! Entertainment)
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The Oscar winner picked up her fourth Emmy, this one for lead actress in a limited series, as Angela Aybar/Sister Night in “Watchmen.”

On the difference between virtual and in-person awards shows:
My nerves are more jittery here at home ... something about being in that room and being able to share that moment with your peers and your family and being able to look in everyone’s faces and get hugs and know that you’re gonna get a hug — I’m missing that. My brain kind of went blank. Didn’t get a chance to say “I love you, Mom,” because it’s just such a weird moment. Didn’t get to recognize my cast, which I know I would have done for sure, looking at them out there. So yeah, I like the real awards better. Not that these are fake!

On her decision to wear the Breonna Taylor shirt:
The cops still haven’t been [held] accountable. She represents decades, hundreds of years of violence against Black bodies, Breonna Taylor does. Wearing Breonna’s likeness, representing her and her family and ... the things that the stories 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.

On performers’ responsibility to use their platform for justice:
Whether you like it or not, when you decided to take on this career choice to be a part of the thespian community, if you have some success in it, you do have a platform. I love being a Black woman, I loved being a Black girl, I love being American, and it’s important people see all of those things together. When you have the platform to celebrate that, when you have the platform to remind those that tend to look past Black girls, Black women, and you have the opportunity to celebrate — I’m repeating myself, but I will do it a million times over — you seize it. When I saw my sister Uzo had on the same shirt, it was a confirmation that this was right.

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2020 Emmy winner (seven times over) “Schitt’s Creek” went from cult obscurity to fan favorite. Like the series itself, that feel-good story is a solace right now.

Dan Levy

Dan Levy won four times at the 72nd Emmy Awards.
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Dan Levy picked up four Emmys in quick succession for “Schitt’s Creek” at the 72nd Emmy Awards.
(ABC)

The showrunner of the record-setting, Emmy-sweeping “Schitt’s Creek” picked up four awards in quick succession, for acting, writing, directing (with Andrew Cividino) and comedy series.

On the messages he’s received about the series’ LGBTQ representation:
Getting to write that storyline, obviously, was incredibly cathartic for me for a variety of reasons. One, I don’t often get to see those kinds of relationships depicted on TV so I felt like it was an incredible responsibility to have been given that opportunity and to try to tell it as authentically as I possible could. ... We made a decision not to include homophobia or bigotry on our show, and by projecting a sweeter, gentler world, I feel like that was in a way a political statement. It seemed to have quite an incredible effect on people. I think the letters we’ve received from families and from people who have been changed in one way or another by the story that we were telling — that is the gift, to be perfectly honest. To know you have done something that has not only brought laughs to people but has also changed conversations in people’s homes and changed people’s minds and changed people’s hearts. That is tremendous and all you can really hope for. All of this is just icing on the cake, really.

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Find out the winners of the 2020 Emmys with our complete list, updating live during Sunday night’s ceremony.

Damon Lindelof

Damon Lindelof accepts the limited-series Emmy for "Watchmen" in a screen grab from the 72nd Emmy Awards telecast.
I advance (un)masked: Damon Lindelof accepts the limited-series Emmy for “Watchmen” in a screen grab from the telecast of the 72nd Emmy Awards.
(ABC)

The creator of HBO’s “Watchmen,” adapted from the groundbreaking comic that landed on Time magazine’s list of greatest novels of the 20th century, won for limited series and writing (with Cord Jefferson). He wore a “Remember Tulsa ’21" shirt in reference to the Black Wall Street massacre of 1921, which is depicted in the show’s first episode.

On bringing attention to the Tulsa Race Massacre:
This story began with not just my love for the original “Watchmen,” which I read when I was a kid, but then I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book “Between the World and Me,” and it changed the way I saw America. Then I saw that [piece] he wrote called “The Case for Reparations,” and that educated me and was the first time I heard about the massacre of Black Wall Street in 1921. I was shocked on two levels. Level one was that this happened in America. And the second was that it had been erased from history. I started feeling like, “Look, is there anything that I can do to make people learn about this?” And my skill is that I’m a genre storyteller. I tell weird comic-book, sci-fi genre stories. Is there a way to take this real-life history and put it in something to introduce a larger audience to it? And “Watchmen” became that vessel. When the show premiered back in October, that night, the word “Watchmen” was not trending on Twitter but “Black Wall Street” and “Tulsa massacre” were.

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It just showed you that people have a real hunger to find missing pieces of history; you just have to find ways that are a little bit off the beaten path. This show was about injustice, about people taking the law into their own hands because the law isn’t there to help them when they’re in trouble. It felt like the perfect vehicle to talk about this forgotten atrocity.

On working with King again:
I’ve had the good fortune to work [with] and be inspired by Regina twice now, and to do it a third time would be miraculous. And so the answer is “Yes.” I’d love to go work for her because now she’s a producer and director in her own right. So it would be nice to sort of flip it a little bit, and whatever direction Regina points me in, I will go.

In terms of what’s next, I love the medium of television and I feel like the next step for me is to find voices that would not otherwise be heard unless someone is blocking for them. So I’m moving into a kind of curating phase of my life. I’m going to hang other people’s art for a while. That work is incredibly fulfilling for me and I can’t imagine ever being more proud of anything than I am of “Watchmen.” So I’m just going to get off the carousel here.

Netflix’s “Unorthodox” recreates the customs of the Hasidic Jewish community in painstaking detail. We went behind the scenes to find out how they did it.

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Maria Schrader

Maria Schrader, winner for directing for a limited series, in a screen grab from the telecast of the 72nd Emmy Awards.
An “Unorthodox” win: Maria Schrader won for directing the limited series “Unorthodox,” which she believes to be the first German program to be nominated for a series Emmy.
(ABC)

The winning director of the limited series “Unorthodox” is a multiple award-winning actress in her native Germany.

On how social activism has affected opportunities for women in Hollywood:
I think it has a great impact and it’s very important. In Germany, like 14% of the directors are female, to this day. To me, it always felt like a natural move, since I started out as an actress, but an actress who wrote her own parts, then bit by bit, I got involved in directing. I do think women sometimes have different emphases in their stories, and tell different stories. I hope that the percentage of female directors will grow over time.


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