Webby Awards: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Stars Talk Blurring Lines Between TV, the Internet

Getty/Webby Awards
Tituss Burgess accepting his Webby award Monday night

Webbys executive director David-Michel Davies credits Jimmy Fallon with starting the trend of late-night content that lives online.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt may be a TV show that was initially created for a network (NBC) and is now streaming on Netflix, but that didn't stop the Webbys from honoring the show's stars Ellie Kemper and Tituss Burgess as among the Internet's best.

And neither Kemper nor Burgess seemed to mind receiving accolades from the online-centric organization.

"I've never won anything, so anytime anyone honors me with anything, it probably means more to me than perhaps the actual award means itself," Burgess told The Hollywood Reporter before Monday night's show. "This is a lovely honor, and this is our first time out of the gate, [with Kimmy Schmidt just finishing its first season]. So to be acknowledged by an organization that covers all media content online, it's a big deal. I saw a list of the past nominees, so I'm in good company." During his five-word acceptance speech, Burress paid tribute to one of the women who helped him make it to the Webbys stage, Kimmy Schmidt co-creator Tina Fey, who celebrated her birthday the same day as the Webbys.

"Happy f—ing birthday, Tina Fey," Burgess said from the stage, teasing ahead of time that while he had been preparing his speech it "changed today because I learned a piece of new information," specifically that it was Fey's birthday.

As for Kemper, she said being honored by the Webbys made her "feel very current and very hip," adding that she's a little closer to Kimmy on the tech-savvy spectrum.

When asked what Kimmy would think of the Webbys, Kemper said, "I think she would be sort of similar to how I am, maybe a little overwhelmed by all of it."

Webbys executive director David-Michel Davies explained that honoring Kemper and Burgess is just a continuation of how the awards have recognized actors and actresses as there's been a larger shift to releasing scripted programming online.

There were a number of other TV winners, recognized for their digital savvy, including late-night rivals Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. When asked about the increasing popularity of late-night talk-show content that lives online, Davies credits Fallon with starting that trend.

"It all goes back to Jimmy Fallon in 2008 or something … He always got the Internet from the beginning. He did webisodes before [his] show went live on NBC so he could practice it … He just really got immediately that that kind of content could be great for the Internet," Davies told THR. "He was really the pioneer. Many of the other [talk-show hosts] have been doing really great stuff and taken that torch and done entirely new things which is super cool too. He was an inspiration to that whole industry. It's really shown what you can do and how you can make really great short content that has this incredible life the next day, which is sometimes more meaningful than the moment it was live."

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