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Courtney B. Vance won his first Emmy Award, for leading actor in a limited series or movie, for FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” Vance played one of O.J. Simpson’s attorneys, Johnnie Cochran.

After thanking his associates and family members, Vance proclaimed “Education is the key.” He then directed his thanks to his wife, “To the woman who rocks my chain, Angela Evelyn Bassett, this one is for you girl!”

Vance is also active in film and theater, and has garnered three Tony nominations. He was nominated for NAACP awards for “Masters of Sex” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”

In one of the most tightly contested — and star-studded — races, Vance claimed the trophy over fellow nominees Bryan Cranston in HBO’s “All the Way,” Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC America’s “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride,” Idris Elba in BBC America’s “Luther,” Cuba Gooding Jr. in FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and Tom Hiddleston in AMC’s “The Night Manager.”

Going into the Emmys, the race was considered a close call between Cranston for his portrayal of former President Lyndon B. Johnson in the HBO biopic and Vance for his work as defense attorney Johnnie Cochran in the FX true crime anthology. “All the Way” was adapted from the play, which earned two Tony Awards, including one for Cranston for lead actor.

Cumberbatch won an Emmy Award in 2014 for the role in “Sherlock: His Last Vow.”