The 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards didn’t have any shocking live-television moments — nobody fell down or gave out the wrong prize — but they did deliver when it came to setting new milestones for both the awards themselves and the television industry more broadly.
Here are six ways the 2017 Emmys set new records and milestones for awarding excellence in television. If the awards were any indication, the future of the Emmys is going to be more diverse — and less bound to traditional means of distribution.
Donald Glover becomes the first Emmy-winning black director
Glover netted two wins at the Emmys, both for the FX show Atlanta, which he created and stars in. Glover won an Emmy for his performance in the show, but also won for directing the episode “B.A.N.,” in which Paper Boi (played by Brian Tyree Henry) appears on Charlie Rose’s talk show. With that win, he became the first black director in TV history to win the category.
Besides those two categories, Glover was nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy, and the show was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. It didn’t take home either of those prizes, but the nominations themselves broke a record: Glover was the first black actor to be nominated for all of them.
Master of None’s Lena Waithe is the first black woman to win for comedy writing
Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing when the Netflix show’s episode “Thanksgiving,” which she co-wrote with series co-creator Aziz Ansari, took home the prize for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. The episode is based on her experiences coming out as a lesbian to her family. And in an eminently classy move, Ansari — who won in the category last year alongside Alan Yang — stood to the side while Waithe gave her acceptance speech.
The Night Of’s Riz Ahmed is the first man of Asian descent to win for acting
In 2010, Archie Panjabi won an Emmy for her supporting actress role in The Good Wife. But Ahmed — whose parents moved to England from Pakistan before he was born — became the first man of Asian descent to win for acting. He took home the prize for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series, for his performance in the HBO drama The Night Of.
Reed Morano becomes the first woman in 22 years to win for directing
The last time a woman won an Emmy for directing, it was 1995, when Mimi Leder won for her work on ER. Morano is best known as a cinematographer, with a career that spans everything from Frozen River to Beyoncé’s Lemonade and the upcoming Joan Didion doc. But she stepped out from behind the camera to direct several episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, and won an Emmy for “Offred,” the pilot episode.