The notable win for the star-creator of the Amazon Prime and BBC comedy upset the favored Veep lead, who would have set a new record for most Emmy acting wins had she taken home the trophy for the final season of the HBO series.
“I really wasn’t expecting this!” the shocked Waller-Bridge exclaimed while accepting the award. “This means a huge, huge amount to me.”
The beloved British auteur was taking the stage for the second time, only moments after earning her first-ever Emmy trophy for best writing for a comedy. Referencing her earlier speech, an overwhelmed Waller-Bridge shared her excitement by proclaiming, “I can’t believe — yay!” and explaining, “I’m so supported on this show. It’s sickening how much we all love each other.”
At the end of the night, Waller-Bridge would accept her third trophy, for best comedy series in another surprising twist, beating out previous Emmy darlings Veep and Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
While accepting the best actress trophy, Waller-Bridge called out the “unbelievable actresses” who joined her as nominees in the category, including Christina Applegate (Dead to Me), Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll) and Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek). She exited the stage on a high, noting, “I’m going to start repeating myself.”
Louis-Dreyfus, the star and executive producer of Veep, has taken home the outstanding lead actress in a comedy award for the six consecutive years the HBO comedy has been eligible. She holds the record for most acting wins for a performer in the same role (six) and is tied for the record for overall acting Emmys (eight) with Cloris Leachman. Last year, while Veep was on hiatus before returning for its seventh and final season, Brosnahan won the category. (Veep delayed production while Louis-Dreyfus underwent treatment for breast cancer.)
However, Waller-Bridge, who has said season two is the end of Fleabag, has universally charmed critics — and now, TV Academy members as well — with the well-received first and even-better-received sophomore season of her razor-sharp comedy, in which she stars as the protagonist known only as “Fleabag.”
Next up for Waller-Bridge, also the creator of the Emmy-nominated BBC America drama Killing Eve, is Bond 25 — she was brought in for a script rewrite on the anticipated 007 film; HBO’s Run, where she exec produces and has a recurring role; and a feature she’s writing with the intent to direct.