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Yvette Nicole Brown was the first Emmy-nominated star to hit the red carpet Friday night outside Television Academy headquarters in North Hollywood, site of the Performers Nominee Celebration.
The actress, recognized for a guest turn on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, arrived in a mask, removed it to pose for photos, and promptly put it back on before speaking to reporters. “I don’t know about anybody else, I want to live,” Brown told The Hollywood Reporter of her strategy this Emmy Awards weekend amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guests at the celebration were required to show proof of vaccination, and media, publicists and TV Academy officials were required to wear masks on the carpet, while revelers could mingle without. “I’m going to Emmy parties this weekend, and we have to be tested, and I want to be respectful, added Brown. “I got tested this morning. I want to make sure that I don’t catch anything tonight that I take with me anywhere else I go. I’m trying to enjoy the weekend as best I can while staying safe.”
That sentiment was shared by several of the nominated performers THR spoke with on the carpet, many of whom seemed cautiously giddy to be at a celebration to honor the Emmys, especially on a weekend marked by only a small handful of events due to the ongoing pandemic. “It feels so good just to be here,” WandaVision nominee Kathryn Hahn explained. “It feels like we are at a wrap party or something, like we are finally able to see each other for the first time in a long time.”
She even joked that it will be an opportunity to check up on “the kind of face-work people have had since the beginning of the pandemic, underneath their masks.” On a more serious note, Hahn said she was eagerly anticipating Sunday night’s ceremony, as it offers a chance to raise a glass to WandaVision colleagues and celebrate the Disney+ show. “Hopefully we’ll all be sitting together,” she said. “It also feels like high school. We keep asking where each other’s tables are.”
Many eyes will be on the tables that host the Ted Lasso crew. The show received a total of 20 nominations including outstanding comedy series, and stars Brendan Hunt, Hannah Waddingham, Brett Goldstein, Phil Dunster, Jeremy Swift and writer/executive producer Jamie Lee all turned up in North Hollywood for the festivities.
“This is a huge weekend,” said Lee of celebrating their Apple TV+ hit. “I can’t even believe that we’re here because I started on the show when it first started. I was in the writers room and I definitely loved my job. I loved going to work. I thought that was the most special part of it. In the aftermath of the premiere, to find out that people love it and now we’re nominated? That part. I never could have conceived of how the show would take off. Never in a million years. I just knew I really love my co-workers. I mean, really, really love my coworkers.”
Dunster had just flown in from the U.K. and after checking into his hotel, he immediately bumped into Juno Temple and Goldstein. “After seeing them, I was like, ‘Oh my God, my people, my family!'” he recalled. “It’s a real family feel on the show, and to be able to be together again like this feels very special, particularly after the year that we’ve had.”
Black-ish nominee Anthony Anderson surveyed the scene and said it was interesting to see the pivot to outdoor celebrations and award shows as a way to keep gatherings safe. “We’re dealing with it the best we can. This is our new normal,” said the actor. “Hopefully, we can get over this hump, but it’s going to take some time. It’s going to take effort from everybody, from the citizens to the government to health care providers. But coming together, I think we can do it.”
Pose star and outstanding drama actress nominee Michaela Jaé Rodriguez also expressed optimism about toasting the town while at the same time respecting the pandemic. “Protocols are important, so I wear my mask as much as I can. I don’t take Miss Rona as a joke at all. Miss Rona is no joke — she’s been hurting a lot of people out here. But I know my limits, I know my spaces, and I just want to enjoy it. I’m going to try my best to keep masked up but still enjoy it because it’s a great weekend.”
Other performers who kicked off their Emmy weekend at the bash — sponsored by Kia America, People magazine, Fiji water, Ketel One vodka, Sterling Vineyards, Franciacorta and United Airlines — included Bobby Berk, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Chris Sullivan, Dallas Liu, Hannah Einbinder, Justin Hartley, Karen Fukuhara, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Kylee D. Allen, Laz Alonso, Miles Brown, Mychal-Bella Bowman, Thuso Mbedu, O-T Fagbenle, Eliza Bennett, Brendan Scannell, Jessica Long, Bob Bergen and Patrika Darbo.
Another was Giancarlo Esposito. The veteran star received a fifth Emmy nomination in 2021, this one for his work on Disney+ series The Mandalorian, and even though he’s stared down an awards weekend before, he’s taking nothing for granted. “I’m not jaded enough to go, ‘Oh, it’s just another day at the office.’ I love what I do, and I’ve realized I have been given the gift of life. Every time I get a new script, every time I’m able to work on a new character, I realize that I have been given a gift and that gift fills me up. To be able to celebrate the fact that I’ve shown up through all adversity and celebrate my team who’s seen that drive and that creative inspiration in me. I want to celebrate them because they’ve allowed me to be, and this is who I am. I’m really relaxed this year. I feel like I already won when I got the nomination.”
Over the hill, in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles Confidential hosted a pre-Emmys soirée at the Waldorf Astoria as a way to toast cover star and Mare of Easttown nominee Julianne Nicholson. The actress told THR that she will be at Sunday night’s telecast alongside her nominated team, and because she’s currently in production on another project, she’s honoring protocols and celebrating safely.
“I’m very, very careful anyways, so I’d feel terrible to shut down production, be responsible for all of those people and all of that money,” Nicholson explained. “But honestly, it’s as serious to me if I’m walking into my house or walking into one person. I take it seriously and wear masks everywhere.”
Bridgerton showrunner Chris Van Dusen called it “a very weird year” with COVID-19 continuing to impact life, work and the social scene but he feels ready to celebrate because protocols are being followed in such a strict way. “I’m ready to have some fun,” he said.
The Handmaid’s Tale’s Fagbenle, nominated for his work on the Hulu hit series, also turned up at the L.A. Confidential bash and said the quieter social scene is perfect for him as he’d rather play it safe. “I’m personally not a huge partier, so this is a good amount for me. It keeps me off the street,” he said. “Every human interaction holds the weight of the production, so I’ve become a recluse and been in a very small bubble.”
Additional reporting by Kirsten Chuba
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