Tue, Sep 22, 2015 - Page 12 News List

A night of breaking barriers and records

Sunday’s Emmy Awards was highlighted by Viola Davis becoming the first non-white actress to win best actress in a drama and ‘Game of Thrones’ nabbing an unprecedented 12 awards

By LYNN ELBER  /  AP, LOS ANGELES

Viola Davis, who stars in How to Get Away with Murder, became on Sunday the first non-white actress to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Photo: Mark DAvis, AFP

Long-standing barriers fell at Sunday’s Emmy Awards as Viola Davis became the first non-white actress to claim top drama series acting honors, Jon Hamm finally won for Mad Men, and Game of Thrones overcame voters’ anti-fantasy resistance to snare the most trophies ever in a season.

DRAMATIC FINISH

An emotional Davis, who won for her portrayal of a ruthless lawyer in How to Get Away with Murder, invoked the words and spirit of 19th-century African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

“In my mind I see a line,” she quoted. “And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.”

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” Davis added. “You cannot win Emmys with roles that are simply not there.”

Empire star Tariji P. Henson, another black nominee in the category, stood and applauded Davis’ win. Other African-American actresses who prevailed Sunday were Uzo Aduba and Regina King, who won for supporting performances.

Mad Men star Hamm claimed the best drama actor Emmy that eluded him seven times before. He bypassed the steps to the stage, scrambling onto it on his stomach.

“There has been a terrible mistake, clearly,” said Hamm, who played troubled ad man Don Draper in the series that ended its run without adding another best-drama trophy to its haul of four previous wins.

It lost to Game of Thrones, which became only the second so-called “genre” series, after sci-fi drama Lost, to win. The blood-soaked fantasy saga won a combined 12 Emmys on Sunday and at the previous creative arts awards, eclipsing the nine-awards record set by The West Wing in 2000.

With a total of 26 Emmys since it became eligible to compete in 2011, Game of Thrones is tied with Hill Street Blues and The West Wing as the most-honored drama series ever. Sitcom Frasier remains the overall winner with 37 awards.

Peter Dinklage nabbed the best supporting drama actor award for Game of Thrones, which also won writing and directing trophies. Tracy Morgan, the actor-comedian seriously injured last year in a car accident, made a triumphant return to reveal Game of Thrones the best drama series.

Host Andy Samberg noted that the 67th Emmys coincided with the 67th birthday for George R.R. Martin, whose novels are the basis for Game of Thrones. A smiling Martin was in the theater audience to accept the congratulations, and was onstage for the big win.

The victory came despite criticism of the show last season for a rape scene.

COMEDIC TRIUMPH

On the comedy side, political satire Veep claimed the top series award that had gone to Modern Family for five consecutive years.

Jon Stewart is gone from The Daily Show but not forgotten by Emmy voters, who gave the late-night show the best variety talk series award Sunday over two hosts who have moved on, Stephen Colbert and David Letterman.

Stewart, who left the Daily Show earlier this year, warned the theater audience that the perils of leaving TV include no applause or free food.

“To everybody on television, I just want to tell you, cling to it as long as you can,” joked Stewart, who’s turning over Daily Show to Trevor Noah.

Besides Colbert, who left his Comedy Central show to become host of CBS’ late-night show, the tough competition included another channel alum, John Oliver, for his HBO series.

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