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9.18.2017

Riz Ahmed is the first Asian actor to win an Emmy

Other notable winners include Lena Waithe and Aziz Ansari for 'Master of None.'



On Sunday at the 69th annual Emmy Awards, Riz Ahmed won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his starring role as an accused murderer in HBO's limited series crime drama The Night Of.

That makes Ahmed the first man of Asian descent to take home a trophy at the Emmys, and only the second Asian performer ever to win, following Archie Panjabi's win for The Good Wife in 2010.

The Night Of is an eight-part miniseries that follows the intricate story of a murder case in New York City. Ahmed received critical praise for his star-making turn as Nasir "Naz" Khan, a Pakistani American college student accused in the grisly murder of a mysterious young woman after a night gone wrong.

"Wow. This is a tremendous honor to be recognized along so many actors who I've watched for so long." Ahmed said in his acceptance speech. "If this show has shone a light on some of the prejudice in our society, Islamophobia, some of the injustice in our justice system, then maybe that's something."

The Pakistani British actor and emcee also specifically credited the organizations South Asian Youth Action and The Innocence Project for helping him prepare for the role.



The evening's other noteworthy winners include Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe, who won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series for the "Thanksgiving" episode of Netflix's Master of None. It's one of the highlights of season two and, hands down, one of my favorite episodes of television ever.

The win notably made Waithe the first black woman to win for Best Writing in a Comedy Series. (Ansari and series co-creator Alan Yang won in the same category last year for the celebrated "Parents" episode.)

The pair received a standing ovation as they took the podium, where Ansari silently took two steps back to give Waithe the mic and have her well-deserved moment. In her acceptance speech, she thanked Netflix, gave her girlfriend a shoutout, and shared an empowering message to her "LGBTQIA family."

"I see each and every one of you," Waithe said. "The things that make us different -- those are our superpowers. Every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world, because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren't in it. And for everybody out there that showed us so much love for this episode, thank you for embracing a little Indian boy from South Carolina and a queer black girl from the South Side of Chicago."


Of course, such a huge win did not spare Ansari and Waithe from enduring an awkward moment backstage.

Also noteworthy: Donald Glover won Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for the hilarious "B.A.N." episode of Atlanta, becoming the first black director ever to win an Emmy in the category. (Later, he also took home the trophy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.)

In his acceptance speech for directing, Glover singled out and thanked his best friend and close collaborator Hiro Murai, who directed seven episodes of Atlanta's first season. Murai, who previously directed music videos, is largely credited as the talent behind the show's unique look and feel.

"This really belongs to Hiro Murai," Glover said, holding up his Emmy statue. "He taught me everything about directing. He had the eye for this show when we first sat down. He's just amazing. I really want to give this to Hiro and say I love you and thank you for being my best friend."



So... if you're looking for some good TV to watch, these shows are a pretty damn great place to start.