“The Queen’s Gambit,” “The Mandalorian,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Crown” and “Pose” were among the top winners on Saturday as the first wave of this year’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards were handed out in downtown Los Angeles.
Netflix prevailed among networks and platforms with 12 wins, paced by seven trophies collected by limited series “The Queen’s Gambit.”
The ceremony was held outdoors in a tent in the L.A. Live complex because of pandemic conditions. Attendance was much smaller than in previous years because of the need for social distancing to protect against COVID-19 outbreaks. Those who did attend the show in person went through a gauntlet of paperwork and screenings on site to prove that they were vaccinated and had tested negative for the virus within the past 48 hours.
“The Queen’s Gambit’s” haul included wins for period costumes, period makeup, production design and cinematography for a limited series. The increasingly international nature of production was highlighted as several winners for the program referenced living outside the U.S. “I’m bringing this baby home to Berlin,” said “Queen’s Gambit” set decorator Sabine Schaaf as she hoisted her Emmy.
The first of three Creative Arts Emmy Award presentations also fell on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. That milestone was not lost on Keith Raywood, who was among the “Saturday Night Live” winners for production design on a variety series. That was one of three categories taken by the venerable NBC late-night series that is heading into its 47th season this year. In his remarks, Raywood, a 37-year “SNL” veteran, noted the parallels between the upheaval wrought by the attacks on New York and the Pentagon in 2001 to the struggle today with the pandemic.
“Twenty years and two weeks ago we did our first show back,” Raywood said of “SNL’s” return to production after the attacks. “That was the first time I realized I worked on more than a show, but something that mattered on a much bigger scale in people’s lives. Last year it felt very similar to that moment.”
The crew’s biggest challenge was whether or not it was OK to be funny again and if it was OK make people laugh. Raywood said. “The country was in such a state of shock and comedy can be very inappropriate,” he said.
Among the upset winners was HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show” for picture editing for variety programming, up against such Emmy darlings as “SNL” and fellow HBO series “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
Winner Daysha Broadway, who lead the “BLSS” team that included Stephanie Filo and Jessica Hernandez, noted the significance of that particular trio winning a top prize for editing, a craft that has traditionally been male dominated but has also been a notable launching pad for renowned female cutters such as Thelma Schoonmaker.
Broadway was emotional as she emphasized how rare it is for one woman of color to succeed at the highest levels in a craft, let alone three. Broadway said the recognition from industry peers demonstrated that Black and brown women have a range of talents that have yet to be seen on the world stage.
“Thank you for being you,” Broadway said to “BLSS” chieftain Robin Thede, crediting the star and showrunner for insisting on diversity behind the scenes of the show at every level. Backstage, Broadway urged others to take a cue from Thede. “I think that it’s so important that people stack their crew with diversity and inclusion, but also listen to their opinions, and let them work when they get there,” she said.
Those job opportunities have already opened doors to potentially long careers in TV for many crew, craft and technical workers on the show. It’s a movement that has the effect of saying to Black and brown women: “We see you, we love you, you are not a monolith,” Broadway said.
Unsurprisingly, FX’s “Pose” won the trifecta of style awards, commanding the trophies for contemporary makeup, hairstyling and costumes in an extremely competitive year. Winners from the drama series that wrapped its three-season run in June were also emotional about the show’s legacy in driving change and opportunity in the industry for those previously marginalized beyond hope of ever having a career in Hollywood.
“For a little girl from the ‘hood, this is a dream,” said hairstylist Tene Wilder, one of six members of the team who took the contemporary hairstyling Emmy for FX’s groundbreaking drama “Pose.”
Barry Lee Moe, “Pose” hair department head, delivered a rousing speech, dedicating the win to the trans community. “This award is for all the trans people who have felt discarded and invisible in this world, yet somehow continued to find the courage and strength to push through day after day despite the constant challenges of being thrown on their doorstep every morning,” Moe said. “This award is for those trans human beings whose lives have been carelessly stolen and cut short by ignorance, hate and violence. This award is for trans sisters and elders who built the very foundation that we stand upon today.”
This year’s front-runners — Disney Plus’ popular “Star Wars”-derived drama “The Mandalorian” and Netflix’s “The Crown” — were overshadowed by “Queen’s Gambit” on the craft-heavy slate of categories for Night 1. (Two more Creative Arts ceremonies will be held Sept. 12, followed by the main event to air live Sept. 19.) “Mandalorian” came away with three wins, including single-camera cinematography for a half-hour series and prosthetic makeup.
“WandaVision” which took home two Emmys for Outstanding Production Design For A Narrative Program (Half-Hour) and Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, gave Marvel Studios its first win. Costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo got emotional while speaking backstage.
“Being a woman manager, an immigrant and a Mexican, we work hard to get to this point,” she said.
“The Crown” captured two trophies, for cinematography for a single-camera series (one hour) and picture editing for a drama series. “Mandalorian” and “Crown” were the top nominees this year with 24 bids apiece.
“Ted Lasso,” Apple TV Plus’ feel-good comedy kudos juggernaut, added two more pieces of hardware to its trophy case, taking the Emmys for picture editing and sound mixing. The series is the comedy front-runner this year as it grabbed a record-setting 20 Emmy bids for its freshman season. Most of “Ted Lasso’s” nominations are up for grabs at the Sept. 19 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony set to air live on CBS.
Another memorable moment at Saturday’s Creative Arts presentation came when presenters June Diane Raphael and Paul Scheer nearly had a snafu reminiscent of the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony when the wrong best picture winner was initially announced by presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Raphael and Scheer stopped themselves before sending misinformation into the universe.
“This does not feel right. This does not feel good,” Scheer deadpanned on stage. “I was paying attention enough to know that this was not a person who was nominated.”
Afterward, Raphael told reporters backstage that the moment was real, not scripted. “I had a moment where I looked at Paul and thought, ‘Did we hear that nominee?,'” Raphael said. It turned out that they had the right card, but were reading the wrong section. “I got yelled at by the accountant,” Scheer added backstage. “The best part of my night was getting yelled at by the PricewaterhouseCoopers guy.”
Highlights of this weekend’s three Creative Arts Emmy ceremonies will air Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. on FXX.
(Pictured top: Daysha Broadway, Stephanie Filo and Jessica Hernandez, winners for HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”)