One thing is for certain on Emmy night: The Emmys will get political. How can they not? Just take a look at the past year in awards shows. If presenters, winners and hosts weren’t talking about Time’s Up and #MeToo, there was plenty of time dedicated to protesting President Trump and his policies regarding race, LGBTQ rights and immigration issues.
“I think everybody is at a heightened awareness,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris says. “We are at a very interesting time in history, and I think politically within in our government and not just in our country but in our world, what’s going on in our industry, I think people are going to be much more front and center.”
At the Golden Globes, most celebs wore black to protest sexual harassment and assault and donned Time’s Up pins, with several actors, including Michelle Williams, bringing social activists such as #MeToo founder Tarana Burke to talk about the issues while being interviewed on the red carpet. Oprah Winfrey gave a speech when she received the Cecil B. DeMille award that many politicos and fans believed, or at least hoped, was her unofficial launch for a 2020 bid for the White House.
At the Grammys, Kelly Clarkson and Halsey showed support for Time’s Up by adding small white roses to their red carpet ensembles.
And then at the Oscars, a special Time’s Up segment was introduced by Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek, all three of whom have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct and assault.
Robert De Niro became the president’s most blunt critic during an awards show when he dropped f-bombs while introducing Bruce Springsteen’s performance at the Tonys in June. “First, I wanna say, f— Trump,” De Niro said. “It’s no longer, ‘Down with Trump’—it’s ‘f— Trump.’”
Last year’s Emmys didn’t touch on Time’s Up or #MeToo because the New York Times and New Yorker exposes on Harvey Weinstein that started the wave didn’t come out until a month after the ceremony. So this will be the first chance that platform can be used to further such movements. But those might not be the only hot-button issues discussed on the Emmy red carpet or during the broadcast.
“We are at a point right now where there are a lot of very important platforms,” says “American Horror Story” and “Pose” executive producer Alexis Martin Woodall. “If people get up there and they want to use that moment to use their voice then, that’s their win — they won an award, they have a microphone, say what you want to say. … I just hope that it’s always well said.”
“Saturday Night Live’s” “Weekend Update” anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che make their living taking shots at the Donald Trumps and Harvey Weinsteins of the world, so expect the political and social issue-centered jokes to start as soon as the cameras start rolling on their hosting debut.
“We are in highly charged political times, so I’m sure people will have thoughtful responses going into this and, possibly, messages that they want to share,” says “This Is Us” co-showrunner Elizabeth Berger. “I think it’s hard not to with the backdrop that we’re in. So, yes, I’m anticipating an interesting show.”
Christi Carras and Scott Huver contributed to this report.