From Phoebe-Waller Bridge to Billy Porter: Returning Winners' Inspirations and Provocations

3:45 PM 11/19/2019

by Katie Campione

Michelle Williams, Patricia Arquette and Jharrell Jerome are among the Emmy recipients back in the race for SAG Awards and Golden Globes accolades. And if they take the stage, they’ll have something to say — as evidenced by their acceptance speeches at the 2019 Emmys.

Phoebe-Waller Bridge in 'Fleabag' and Billy Porter in 'Pose'
Phoebe-Waller Bridge in 'Fleabag' and Billy Porter in 'Pose'
Steve Schofield/Amazon; Macall Polay/FX
  • Michelle Williams

    'Fosse/Verdon'

    Craig Blankenhorn/FX

    "I see this as an acknowledgment of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them and respected enough that they’ll be heard. When I asked for more dance classes, I heard yes. More voice lessons, yes. A different wig, a pair of fake teeth not made out of rubber, yes. And all of these things, they require effort and they cost more money. But my bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honor Gwen Verdon. And so I want to say, thank you so much to FX and to Fox 21 studios for supporting me completely and for paying me equally because they understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. And then where do they put that value? They put it into their work. And so the next time a woman and especially a woman of color — because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white, male counterpart — tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her. Believe her. Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it." — The Fosse/Verdon star, who is a vocal advocate for equal pay.

  • Billy Porter

    'Pose'

    Sarah Shatz/FX

    "I am so overwhelmed and I am so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day. James Baldwin said, 'It took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself and halfway believed before I could walk around this earth like I had the right to be here.’ I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right." — Porter, whose win for his role as Pray Tell on FX’s Pose made history: He became the first openly gay black man to even be nominated for an Emmy in his category. 

  • Patricia Arquette

    'The Act'

    Brownie Harris/Hulu

    "In my heart, I’m so sad I lost my sister Alexis and that trans people are still being persecuted. I’m in mourning every day of my life, Alexis, and I will be the rest of my life for you until we change the world so that trans people are not persecuted. And give them jobs. They’re human beings. Let’s give them jobs. Let’s get rid of this bias that we have everywhere." — Arquette, who won for her supporting role on Hulu’s The Act, used her platform to deliver an impassioned speech calling attention to violence toward the transgender community following the death of her sister. 

  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge

    'Fleabag'

    Courtesy of Amazon

    "It’s just really wonderful to know, and reassuring, that a dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys." — Waller-Bridge, whose second season of Amazon series Fleabag swept the Emmys with three honors. 

  • Tony Shalhoub

    'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'

    Nicole Rivelli

    "Truth be told, I’m in a bit of a quandary. Like many of you, I am not a fan of those endless lists that award recipients drag out with the names and the thanks and the thanks and the names. But, in the case of Maisel, there’s no help for it. It truly does, it takes a village. So, OK, just deal with it. My thanks to our show’s creators Amy Sherman- Palladino and Daniel Palladino, our executive producers, the illustrious husband-and-wife team of Amy and Dan Palladino, our amazing writers, led by — Oh God, I can barely read my own handwriting. Oh yeah! — Amy Sherman-Palladino and her writing partner Danny or Donny … is it Donny or Danny? Doesn’t matter, you know who you are. And of course, our directors, Dan and Amy Palladino. Yikes, I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly." — Shalhoub, who won for his role as professorial father Abe Weissman, gave a tongue-in-cheek speech recognizing the married duo behind Amazon’s Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

  • Alex Borstein

    'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'

    Courtesy of Amazon

    "I want to dedicate this to the strength of a woman. To Amy Sherman-Palladino. To every woman on the Maisel cast and crew. To my mother. … To my grandmother. They are immigrants. They are Holocaust survivors. My grandmother turned to a guard. She was in line to be shot into a pit, and she said, ‘What happens if I step out of line?' And he said, 'I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will.' And she stepped out of line, and for that I am here. And for that, my children are here. So, step out of line, ladies." — Borstein, who won the Emmy for supporting actress in a comedy series two years in a row for her portrayal of Susie Myerson on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

  • Bill Hader

    'Barry'

    Aron Epstein/HBO

    "I get asked a lot when I'm doing press for the show and stuff, 'How do you, you know, direct yourself?' I say, 'Well, dude, there’s a lot of great directors on this show, like Liza Johnson, Minkie Spiro, Maggie Carey, Hiro Murai, who’s a genius.' But the person I usually go to is my friend and co-creator, Alec Berg. And usually after every take, I’ll go over to Alec, and I’ll go, 'So, what do you think?' And I get one of two responses. It’s either, 'Yeah, we should move on' or 'Eh, we should go again.' So, I want to thank you for molding my performance, Alec. And I don’t know where I’d be without you, friend." — Hader on Alec Berg, co-creator of HBO’s Barry.

  • Julia Garner

    'Ozark'

    Courtesy of Netflix

    "This looks kind of like a piece of chocolate, like with a candy wrapper … I want to give a piece to everybody that has been involved in my life. First of all, I want to say thank you to Jason Bateman. I love you so much, and you’ve been a guiding light [since] the beginning." — Garner, who plays Ruth Langmore on Netflix’s Ozark. 

  • Jharrel Jerome

    'When They See Us'

    Courtesy of Netflix

    "I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, chillin', waiting for my mom’s cooking, but I’m here. But I’m here in front of my inspirations. I’m here in front of people who I’m so motivated by … Most important, this is for the men that we know as The Exonerated Five. It’s for Raymond, Yousef, Antron, Kevin and king Korey Wise. Thank you so much. It’s an honor. It’s a blessing." — Jerome, who won the lead actor prize for portraying Korey Wise in Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us for Netflix.

    This story first appeared in a November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.