If we have learned one thing from Taylor Swift, it is that there is no charm in fake surprise at an awards show win. Genuine surprise makes great TV – the gasping and gulping and ‘you like me!’ that fuels social media the next day—but the calm, faux splutter of ‘well gosh, I don’t know what to say, um… I mean, uh… my team, I…” is not cute.
Nobody is listening to you win so you can say a bunch of names that mean nothing to us – we’re listening so you can say something that means something. Use your time at the microphone.
Lena Waithe, in her first ever win, first ever time at the mic, does just that. First of all, she ‘reclaims her time’ because the audience’s all-out cheering and the standing ovation is cutting into her speech time– then proceeds to skillfully and gracefully, without a stammer or a nervous glance to silent, proud Aziz, accept the award, make it personal by thanking her family, then explain to ‘my LGBTQIA family’ that they are superheroes. My favourite quote:
“The things that make us different, those are our super-powers. Every day when you walk out the door, 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.”
Almost like a writer wrote it, or something. Yes, I think she thought about what she wanted to say in the event that she won – I don’t know where we got the impression that it was important to look like the 20% chance of winning never even occurred to you, but I love that Lena Waithe doesn’t subscribe to it.
She’s another historic win – the first black woman to win an Emmy for Comedy writing. But just in case anyone gets stars in their eyes about an actress-turned-writer who happened to be friends with Aziz, trust Ava Duvernay to be there to lay out the real story:
For anyone w/ a dream, know how hard the great @LenaWaithe worked for hers. Congrats on your win, Lena. History has its eyes on you! #Emmys pic.twitter.com/dt6WC3waMr— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 18, 2017
Know how hard she worked. Know this has been a long time coming. Know that the part that’s on TV is just the end of the story, not the whole thing, and it comes from doing the work. For years, often. And then yes, showing her work.
Speaking of showing her work, can you LOOK at this outfit. What I love about it is that while it’s perfectly Lena Waithe, it is exactly as formal as the night requires. Look at the piping on the shirt and the makeup and the updo. You can look just like yourself and still look like it’s the biggest night of your life so far.