“I have the right, you have the right, we all have the right,” Billy Porter declared in his 2019 Emmy awards acceptance speech, making history as the first openly gay black man to win in his category. “We, as artists, are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet. Please don’t ever stop doing that. Please don’t ever stop telling the truth.”
Porter’s speech wasn’t an outlier. The 71st Primetime Emmys on Sunday honored the best of television—but the night’s real winner was feminism. Speeches celebrating political activism abounded. Calls to action echoed through the room.
These were our eight favorite moments. What were yours?
#1: Alex Borstein Encourages Women to “Step Out of Line!”
“Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” actor Alex Borstein was the first winner of the night, taking home the award for best supporting actress in a comedy series—and setting the tone, with a moving tribute to her grandmother, for an evening celebrating activism and calling for action.
Borstein recounted a story about her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, asking a guard, “what happens if I step out of line?” She was in line to be shot, but the guard responded: “I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will.” No one did. “I am here and my children are here,” Borstein said, because of her grandmother’s bravery. “So step out of line, ladies. Step out of line!”
On the same night that Dinesh D’Souza likened Greta Thunberg to Nazi propaganda, Borstein’s message could not have been more important. There is no time for respectability. It’s time to make noise. It’s time to step out of line.
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