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Emmys 2021 as it happened: Emmy Awards winners, major moments and more

We're blogging the big wins, buzzy speeches and memorable moments from the awards show.
Illustration of photos from: Ted Lasso, Lovecraft Country, The Crown, Pose and Saturday Night Live
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

"The Crown," "Ted Lasso" and "The Queen's Gambit" were the big winners at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, which stretched across more than four hours of live television and largely shied away from the political barbs and ripped-from-the-headlines one-liners that have defined award shows in recent years. The night was also notable for the lack of any performers of color among the winners in the 12 acting categories.

Catch up on the night's most memorable moments below.

442d ago / 2:31 AM UTC

Ewan McGregor honored for lead role in 'Halston'

Ewan McGregor scored a dark-horse win for his lead performance as the fashion designer Halston in the eponymous Netflix limited series.

He beat out Paul Bettany ("WandaVision"), Hugh Grant ("The Undoing"), Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Hamilton") and Leslie Odom Jr. ("Hamilton").

442d ago / 2:28 AM UTC

Kate Winslet picks up lead actress Emmy for 'Mare of Easttown'

Exactly 10 years after "Mildred Pierce" waltzed into America's hearts, Kate Winslet is back to prove that everything she touches turns to gold statues.

Winslet, who plays a no-nonsense detective with a heart of gold, a love of vaping and a disastrous personal life in HBO's "Mare of Easttown," beat out breakout stars Michaela Coel ("I May Destroy You") and Anya Taylor-Joy ("The Queen's Gambit") for lead actress in a limited or anthology series, solidifying her place as one of the most relevant and likable actors working today.

In the decade that has elapsed since her last Emmy-winning turn on the small screen, the glamorous star has become increasingly vocal about the industry's ageism issue. And while filming "Mare," she grabbed headlines for insisting that her stomach wasn't edited out of a sex scene and for pushing back against airbrushing.

Perhaps even more surprising than her highly relatable portrayal of an aging suburban beauty in free fall, however, is that she pulls off a convincing Philadelphia accent — an achievement that earned the show an additional honor, a limited edition "Mare of Easttown" cheesesteak at the East Coast chain Wawa.

442d ago / 2:26 AM UTC

Michaela Coel receives Emmy and standing ovation

Michaela Coel won the Emmy for outstanding writing for a limited or anthology series or movie for “I May Destroy You."

Coel was nominated in four categories this year for producing, writing, directing and acting in the hit HBO limited series.

In a heartfelt speech, Coel dedicated the story to "every single survivor of sexual assault," getting thunderous applause and a standing ovation from Elizabeth Olsen, Anya Taylor-Joy and others. 

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442d ago / 2:15 AM UTC

How to play the Queen's Gambit

The Netflix hit show took home an Emmy — after it led to a chess boom in 2020.

But just what is the queen's gambit? Let YouTube's most-followed chess channel walk you through it.

442d ago / 2:13 AM UTC

With his 11th win, RuPaul becomes most-awarded Black artist in Emmys history

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"RuPaul’s Drag Race" won the Emmy for outstanding competition program — making executive producer/host RuPaul Charles the most-awarded Black artist in Emmys history in one of the first wins by a person of color at the 2021 Emmys.

It was Charles’ eleventh Emmy, enough for him to break the record for most Emmy wins by a Black artist. The record had been held by cinematographer Donald A. Morgan.

Charles also became among the first people of color to win at tonight's Emmys.

In a heartfelt speech, Charles thanked the cast and crew. 

“Really, thanks to all of our lovely children on our show from around the world,” he said. “You know, they are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life that was more difficult this year. This is for you and for you kids out there watching. Come to Mama Ru.”

442d ago / 2:12 AM UTC

Debbie Allen shows her patented grace in accepting Governor's Award

Debbie Allen accepted her honorary Governor's Award with the grace and poise that has showed on stage and on screen over a five-decade career.

Introduced as the "ultimate multi-hyphenate," the dancer-choreographer-singer-actress-director-producer had the audience almost as emotional as she was. 

"I am trembling with gratitude and grace, and I'm trying not to cry," said Allen, who previously won two Emmys for choreography.  

"It's taken a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room a lot of time."

Allen also waved off the dreaded clock that was meant to speed up acceptance speeches. "Hey, honey, turn that clock off," said Allen, who rose to fame playing dance teacher Lydia Grant on "Fame." "I ain't paying no attention to it." 

Allen closed with a plea to younger generations of women.

"Let this moment resonate with women around this country, around the world from Texas to Afghanistan," she said. "It's time for you to claim your voice."

442d ago / 2:08 AM UTC

Lasso and Lorne

Among the many to offer congrats to Sudeikis on his win — his former boss at "SNL," Lorne Michaels.

Image: Jason Sudeikis,Lorne Michaels
Lorne Michaels and Jason Sudeikis appear at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP
442d ago / 2:07 AM UTC

Who has won so far?

Two hours into the evening, here are some of the winners who have been announced so far:

Jason Sudeikis was awarded outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for his performance in “Ted Lasso,” and Jean Smart took home the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for her performance in “Hacks.” Dave Chappelle won the award for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series on "Saturday Night Live," and the HBO show “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” took home the award for outstanding variety talk series. The outstanding television movie award went to “Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square.” 

See the full list of Emmy winners and nominees here

442d ago / 1:47 AM UTC

The internet is living for Jean Smart's win

Jean Smart just won the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, and fans cannot contain their excitement. 

Smart, who recently celebrated her 70th birthday, won for her role as Deborah Vance in HBO Max’s “Hacks."

442d ago / 1:47 AM UTC

Jason Sudeikis takes comedy actor prize for 'Ted Lasso'

Jason Sudeikis won gold for his portrayal of Ted Lasso on the hit Apple TV+ series of the same name.

The character won over pandemic-era audiences with his relentless — some might even say grating — optimism and positivity.

"Heck of a year," Sudeikis said in his acceptance speech. He thanked his "teammates," including his family, former "Saturday Night Live" colleagues and "Ted Lasso" collaborators.

442d ago / 1:42 AM UTC

Jean Smart scores an Emmy for 'Hacks'

Jean Smart won the Emmy for lead actress in a comedy series for her portrayal of veteran Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance on HBO's "Hacks."

In her acceptance speech, Smart paid tribute to her late husband. She also gave a shoutout to her "Mare of Easttown" co-stars.

Smart previously won three Emmys — two for her guest appearances on the NBC sitcom "Frasier" and one for her supporting role on the short-lived ABC sitcom "Samantha Who?"

442d ago / 1:32 AM UTC

'PLEASE STOP'

What happens if you win an Emmy and are going a little long with your speech? Now we know, courtesy of novelist Colson Whitehead.

442d ago / 1:31 AM UTC

Cast of 'Schitt's Creek' steals show with teleprompter glitch

The "Schitt's Creek" actors stole the show — even in a year when they weren't nominated.

Presenting the Emmy for outstanding writing in a comedy series, actors Eugene Levy, Annie Murphy and Catherine O’Hara returned to the scene of their historic Emmy-winning night and ran into a technical glitch. The teleprompter that was supposed to show their lines was supposedly offline.

It wasn't clear whether it was a technical glitch or just a bit, but they made it work either way. 

"Did you do something, Eugene?" O'Hara deadpanned.

442d ago / 1:26 AM UTC

'Hacks' cuts into the 'Ted Lasso' winning streak

"Hacks" just won the awards for best comedy series writing and directing, snapping the "Ted Lasso" winning streak and denying the Apple TV+ series a chance to sweep all the comedy categories.

"Hacks," which airs on HBO, follows a veteran comedian (Jean Smart) who teams up with a Gen Z writer (Hannah Einbinder). The series has been well received by critics.

442d ago / 1:25 AM UTC

See the full list of winners

From best direction of a drama series to lead actress in a comedy series, here is a full list of winners and nominees.

442d ago / 1:15 AM UTC

Shout-out to Reggie Watts, tonight's DJ

The DJ who addresses viewers before each commercial break is none other than Reggie Watts, a comedian and musician who serves as house band leader on "The Late Late Show with James Corden."

Watts is a favorite among comedy die-hards. He was the DJ and sidekick on the cult parody talk show "Comedy Bang! Bang!" on IFC. (He composed the theme song for the podcast edition of the franchise.)

442d ago / 1:13 AM UTC

'Saturday Night Live' extends its winning streak

“Saturday Night Live” won an Emmy for outstanding variety sketch series for the fifth year in a row.

The series is among one of the most-nominated series at this year’s ceremony having received 21 nominations. In the acceptance speech, Lorne Michaels recognized the late Norm Macdonald.

442d ago / 1:12 AM UTC

John Oliver honors Conan O'Brien, Norm Macdonald

John Oliver, accepting the award for best variety series writing, tipped his proverbial hat to two of his comedic inspirations: Conan O'Brien and Norm Macdonald.

Oliver told the audience that he was rooting for O'Brien's writing team to win the award. O'Brien's talk show on "TBS" wrapped up this year after 11 years on the air.

Oliver also paid tribute to Macdonald, the deadpan comedian and former "Saturday Night Live" cast member who died Tuesday.

“Spend some time YouTubing clips of Norm and Conan, because it doesn’t get better than that,” Oliver said.

442d ago / 1:06 AM UTC

'The Crown' takes home four Emmys already

“The Crown” has won four Emmys.

Peter Morgan won the Emmy for outstanding writing for a drama series. He won for penning the season four finale, “War.”

Gillian Anderson, who plays Margaret Thatcher, won the Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series.

Tobias Menzies, who plays Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, won the Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series. 

Could the wins be foreshadowing that "The Crown" will finally taking home the Emmy for best drama series, which would be a first for Netflix? Stay tuned.

442d ago / 12:58 AM UTC

Ravens give a nod to Michael K. Williams, too

The Baltimore Ravens also gave a nod to Michael K. Williams tonight.

Before its game Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, the team played the whistled tune that became a trademark of Williams' portrayal of Omar in "The Wire," which was set in Baltimore.

442d ago / 12:58 AM UTC

Cast and crew of 'The Crown' participate in Emmy Awards from London deep into the morning

The cast and crew of "The Crown" kept winning Emmy Awards on Sunday night — but losing sleep in the process.

The actors, writers and filmmakers behind the Netflix period drama were participating in the telecast from a party in London, which is eight hours ahead of the bulk of the other Emmy Awards nominees in California. 

By the time Gillian Anderson won for supporting actress in a drama series, the third Emmy for "The Crown" in just the first hour of the awards show, it was nearly 2 a.m. in England.

442d ago / 12:54 AM UTC

Kerry Washington celebrates the late Michael K. Williams

Kerry Washington, presenting the award for best supporting actor in a drama series, paid tribute to one of the nominees: the late Michael K. Williams, nominated for "Lovecraft Country."

"Your excellence, your artistry, will endure," Washington said from the main stage. "We love you."

442d ago / 12:52 AM UTC

Stephen Colbert riffs on California recall

In presenting the award for best supporting actress in a drama series, Stephen Colbert nodded to the California recall election. He joked that the envelope he was holding contained the results of a recall for the best comedy series from the 2018 ceremony.

He quipped that "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" could be replaced with "The Marvelous Mrs. Larry Elder" — one of the Republican candidates who unsuccessfully ran to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

442d ago / 12:40 AM UTC

'Mare of Easttown' snags two awards in a row

HBO's "Mare of Easttown" snagged two awards in a row at Sunday's Emmys.

Julianne Nicholson won for best supporting actress in a limited series, and Evan Peters won for best supporting actor. Fellow cast member Jean Smart was also nominated for her role in the crime drama series.

But Smart has another chance to win an Emmy for her leading role in "Hacks."

442d ago / 12:32 AM UTC

'Ted Lasso' has the momentum

"Ted Lasso" looks poised to pull off a sweep of nearly all the major comedy series categories.

The feel-good series has already scooped up two awards — for supporting actors Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein — and it is considered the front-runner to win best comedy series honors.

Jason Sudeikis, who stars as the title character and co-created the show, went into the night as the presumed front-runner in the lead actor race.

The series is favored in the writing and directing categories, too.

"Schitt's Creek," the fish-out-of-water comedy that unexpectedly became a mass-appeal favorite during the pandemic, pulled off a similar trick at last year's Emmys. It nabbed the best comedy series trophy, as well as honors for all four of its stars.

But as my colleague Ethan Sacks observed earlier tonight, "Ted" would need a perfect night to tie "Schitt's," which earned nine Emmys last year.

442d ago / 12:19 AM UTC

Seth Rogen pokes fun at lack of social distancing during Covid-era Emmy Awards

After the Emmy Awards opened with many of the celebrities in a small, enclosed space, Seth Rogen vocalized what many in the TV viewing audience were thinking: Where's the social distancing?

"There is way too many of us in this little room," he said before he announced the nominees for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series. "They told me this was outside. Why is there a roof? What are all you people doing?"

It wasn't clear whether he was joking, but Rogan added that he wouldn't have attended had he known it wasn't outdoors. 

“I went from wiping my groceries to having Paul Bettany sneeze in my face," he joked.

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442d ago / 12:17 AM UTC

Streaming the Emmys? You might want to avoid Twitter

If you're streaming the Emmys on Paramount+, you might want to avoid Twitter.

As usual, the stream is a bit behind the regular old TV broadcast. That's a common issue with streaming services. It's not usually a big deal — unless you want to be surprised by something like the winner of an award or a big play in a football game. 

442d ago / 12:17 AM UTC

Ted Lasso takes home first two awards of the night

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The Apple TV+ comedy "Ted Lasso" took home the first two awards of the night.

Hannah Waddingham won for best supporting actress in a comedy and Brett Goldstein won for best supporting actor. Goldstein, a first-time nominee and winner, expressed his sincere gratitude to his cast and crew.

"It has been one of the greatest honors, privileges and privileges — I just said that twice — but it's a double privilege. It's the most privileged privilege and pleasures of my life," he said gleefully. 

Image: Hannah Waddingham
Hannah Waddingham accepts the award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series for "Ted Lasso" at the 73rd Emmy Awards, on Sept. 19, 2021 at L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles.Phil McCarten / Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images

Waddingham, who plays Rebecca, the owner of the fictional soccer team at the center of the Apple TV hit series, won the Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series. 

And she won over the crowd, too, with an acceptance speech that was equal parts funny and heartfelt.

“Jason, you changed my life with this and more importantly my baby girl’s,” Waddingham said to the show's star and producer, Jason Sudeikis. “I’m honestly so privileged to work with you. I really am.”  

The show has plenty of more nominations and might just take home the most Emmys tonight. 

442d ago / 12:07 AM UTC

Cedric the Entertainer pays tribute to the late Biz Markie in intro

Cedric the Entertainer opened the ceremony with an Emmys-themed version of "Just a Friend," the hip-hop classic by Biz Markie, who died in July.

He was joined on stage by LL Cool J, Lil Dicky (also known as David Andrew Burd), Rita Wilson and "Pose" star Billy Porter.

The crowd seemed to love the performance, with many guests rising to their feet and singing along.

442d ago / 12:05 AM UTC

Dolly Parton will take the stage as one of the last Emmy presenters of the evening

Fresh off her first Emmy win for "Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square," the queen of country will present the award for outstanding variety special (pre-recorded). "Hamilton" is the front-runner, which feels like awards kismet and the makings of very wholesome good time. However, because it's one of the very last categories, viewers will have to make it through hours of awards for the pleasure of seeing Parton and Lin Manuel-Miranda share the stage.

442d ago / 11:56 PM UTC

Bowen Yang sashays down the runway in silver metallic pumps

Move over, Lady Gaga!

Comedian Bowen Yang showed up at tonight's red carpet in a black tuxedo with a pair of silver metallic, thick heel pumps.

The "Saturday Night Live" performer made history this year after he became the first cast member to be nominated for an Emmy after only two years. He's competing in the supporting actor in a comedy series category.

442d ago / 11:36 PM UTC

'Ted Lasso' needs a perfect night to tie 'Schitt's Creek'

"Ted Lasso," an absolute hit from Apple TV+, entered Sunday night's Emmy Awards as the favorite comedy series, but it would need the equivalent of several perfect throw in darts to tie a record set just last year.

Even though the show — an American college football coach (Jason Sudeikis) is tapped to lead a beleaguered British soccer team — notched 20 Emmy nominations, it can win only a maximum of nine. That's because multiple nominations are in the same categories, including four for supporting actor (Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Nick Mohammed and Jeremy Swift) and supporting actress (Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple).

Nine Emmys would match the number "Schitt's Creek" won last year, which set a record for a comedy. 

"Ted Lasso" got on the scoreboard last weekend, winning three Creative Arts Emmys. 

442d ago / 11:31 PM UTC

Elizabeth Olsen's outfit designed by older sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley

We're seeing some sibling solidarity on tonight's red carpet.

Elizabeth Olsen, who is nominated for her role in "WandaVision," is in a white look designed by her older sisters: Mary-Kate and Ashley.

The twins haven't acted in a long time, but their fashion label, The Row, has become to a go-to place for thousand-dollar cashmere sweaters.

443d ago / 11:22 PM UTC

Tracking the best-dressed stars from TV's big night

Attention all fashion fans: The red carpet is back! The 2021 Emmy Awards red carpet is back in full force with all of TV's hottest stars showing off their Sunday finest.

What will your favorite celebrity wear? Stay tuned (as they say in television) as we keep track of the must-see looks.

Image: 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals Billy Porter
Billy Porter attends the Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles on Sunday.Rich Fury / Getty Images
443d ago / 11:17 PM UTC

Cedric the Entertainer wants to liven things up

The organization behind the Emmy Awards often taps a late-night talk show host to emcee the ceremony. The big network names — Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert — have all done Emmy-hosting stints in the last decade.

But this year is different. Cedric the Entertainer, the veteran standup comedian and star of the CBS sitcom "The Neighborhood," heads up tonight's show. (Synergy alert: "The Neighborhood" airs on CBS, home of the Emmys this year.)

He told The New York Times that he wants to make the ceremony more accessible to viewers, saying: "I don’t want that Oscars feel.”

"I want to bring a familiarity that comes with my brand of standup. I’m somebody you know," he said. "I’m your cousin or your uncle, and we’re here to celebrate each other.”

443d ago / 11:16 PM UTC

Too much red carpet?

Last Sunday was the VMAs. Monday was the Met Gala. And now it's the Emmy's? 

This is entirely too much red carpet in a seven day span.

Sure, some of this has to do with the pandemic. The Met Gala was postponed. The VMAs are usually in August. But it's a lot of back to back to back celebrity events — and I haven't even brought up fashion week!

443d ago / 11:11 PM UTC

Oscars, Grammys ratings tanked. Are the Emmys next?

The ratings for award shows have been on a steep decline for a decade — and telecasts in the pandemic era have been no different. The ratings for the Academy Awards in April and the Grammy Awards in March plunged to all-time lows.

But what about the Emmys? It is possible that major nominees such as "WandaVision" (Disney+) and "Ted Lasso" (Apple TV+) — two popular, wide-appeal streaming shows — will help entice viewers tonight.

We should get preliminary Nielsen numbers on Monday morning.

443d ago / 10:20 PM UTC

Covid protocols are in place for tonight's show

Attendees will follow strict Covid-19 protocols throughout the ceremony that mimic safety measures put in place on Hollywood sets. This includes testing all participants, requiring vaccinations and ensuring that everyone is wearing a mask when they are not on camera, Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy told Variety.

With the smaller audience, the Television Academy plans to seat attendees at tables and serve food and drink. Typically, this event takes place in a traditional theater, with audiences seated in rows.

Read more here

443d ago / 10:16 PM UTC

How to watch this year's Emmy Awards

The 73rd annual Emmy Awards will air live on CBS Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET; the show can also be found on Paramount+ for those who prefer streaming. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards (which has some interesting categories like guest stars) will air on FXX on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. ET.

See more details, including who's been nominated, here

443d ago / 10:13 PM UTC

The Emmys could see two historic wins tonight

“Pose” star Mj Rodriguez, 30, and “Saturday Night Live” breakout comedian Bowen Yang, 30, each have a chance to cement their name in Emmys history.

Rodriguez, who is nominated in the lead drama actress category for her portrayal of fierce house mother Blanca Rodriguez on FX’s drag ballroom drama “Pose,” could become the first transgender performer to earn an acting Emmy.

Yang, who is one of eight nominees in the supporting comedy actor category, could become the first “SNL” featured player to land an Emmy statuette. 

Catch up on three other major storylines here.