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Billy Porter, Jharrel Jerome make history at Emmys

Despite the pomp, the 71st Emmys was a mundane affair; however, it will long be remembered as the night actors Billy Porter (Pose) and Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us) made history.

The 50-year-old Porter, who earned a Tony for his role in Kinky Boots in 2013, won his first Emmy Award in the Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Pray Tell on Pose. With his win, Porter becomes the first openly gay Black man to win in the lead actor category.


“The category is love, y’all! Love!” Porter began, in true Pray Tell fashion. “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.”

Jharrel Jerome’s win was one for the record book. Actually, make that two for the record book.  First, the 21-year-old actor became the youngest person to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his role in When They See Us. With the win, Jerome is the first Afro-Latino to win an Emmy for acting.

“It’s a blessing and I hope this is a step forward for Dominicans, for Latinos, for Afro Latinos. It’s about time we’re here,“ he told Deadline .


The actor, who first caught our eye as teenage Kevin in Moonlight, earned the trophy for his portrayal of Korey Wise, a member of the exonerated five, who, as an adolescent, was wrongfully convicted of a crime, which led to a 14-year incarnation stint.

As he took the stage, Jerome at first seemed overwhelmed. “I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, chilling, waiting for my mom’s cooking or something,” he finally said. “But I’m here in front of my inspirations, in front of people I’m so motivated by. The reason I’m here is because of actors I was in the category with.”

Elsewhere, the night was undercooked and unseasoned, per usual. See a full list of winners at the 71st Emmys here.



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