Cedric the Entertainer was the host at Sunday night’s Emmy Awards, an event that formally marks both the end of the 2020 TV year and start of the 2021 season. The show was highlighted by Debbie Allen becoming the first Black woman to receive the Governor’s Award.

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — Two Black actors made history Sunday night for different reasons at the 73rd annual Emmy Awards. One became the first Black woman to ever win in a category, while the other became the biggest single Black winner in Emmy history. Michaela Coel won for outstanding writing for a limited or anthology series. She is both the principal writer and star of HBO’s “I May Destroy You.”

She was overcome with emotion upon hearing the news. Coel dedicated her award to sexal assault survivors, while her speech also urged fellow writers to share their stories and expressed the feeling that greatness can also come from silence.

Rupal, the host and producer of “Rupal’s Drag Race,” won his second Emmy of the week and 11th overall. The series became the most awarded reality competition show at the Emmys. Rupal had previously tied the record with cinematographer Donald A. Morgan at the Creative Emmys when he was named outstanding host for a reality or competition program for the sixth year in a row, continuing to extend the record he set last year.  

“Wow, thank you so much to the Academy and all of you gorgeous people here tonight,” RuPaul said in his acceptance speech. “All of the people at World of Wonder and Viacom-CBS who have been so wonderful, but really thanks to all of our lovely children on our show from around the world. You know, they are so gracious to tell their stories of courage and how to navigate this difficult life, even more difficult today. This is for you. And for the kids out there watching: You have a tribe that is waiting for you. We are waiting for you, baby: come on to Mama Ru. Thank you so much.”

Maya Rudolph had previously won an Emmy for Guest Actress, Comedy during the Creative Arts Emmys, joining Dave Chappelle, who won for Guest Actor, Comedy. Both earned awards for work done on “Saturday Night Live.” Courtney B. Vance won for Guest Actor, Drama in his role on “Lovecraft Country.” Vance also paid tribute to deceased fellow star Michael K. Williams, while expressing regret HBO didn’t renew their show.

Debbie Allen became the first Black woman to receive the Governor’s Award. She was celebrated for her contributions to television as an actress, writer, producer, director, dancer and choreographer. 

“Let this moment resonate with women across the world and across this country, from Texas to Afghanistan,” Allen said in accepting the award. “For young people, who have no vote, who can’t even get a vaccine – they’re inheriting the world we live in and will leave them. It’s time for you to claim your power. Claim your voice, sing your song, tell your stories. It will make us a better place. Your turn.”

Cedric the Entertainer hosted the program, which aired on CBS-TV (locally WTVF-5).