Regina King & Uzo Aduba Open Up About Their Emmy Tributes to Breonna Taylor
Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), was shot fatally on March 13, 2020 by police officers from the Louisville (Kentucky) Metro Police Department, who were executing a no-knock search warrant. Last week, it was announced that Taylor’s family would be receiving a $12 million settlement from the City of Louisville, but the officers responsible for her death have yet to be charged.
During the Emmys, Aduba won in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress, Limited Series or Movie, for playing Shirley Chisholm, the real-life, first African-American Congresswoman, in Mrs. America (Hulu). And backstage at the event, she opened up about why she was wearing a shirt featuring Taylor’s name.
“This is a wonderful evening that we’re having and it should be filled with joy and celebration,” Aduba said in the virtual press room, “but I would be remiss to not bring in some of what’s happening outside on the streets and the experiences that are so true for so many that look like myself.
“I have had the unique opportunity to play a woman who made it her life’s work to speak, represent and hold space for those who are forgotten and left behind and out of the conversation,” adds Aduba. “It became important for me not to close the space on those left behind or who have been forgotten.”
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The Emmys. It was an incredible night, a true true joy to celebrate the work of our community. Thank you @televisionacad for the tremendous honor for my work in @mrsam_fxonhulu I am beyond grateful. And it was a real privilege to model the spirit of my character, Shirley Chisholm, and try and hold space for someone who cannot speak for herself, Breonna Taylor. Her life mattered. We must continue to #sayhername. For too long, we have waited for her death to be given the full justice it deserves. I hope we won’t have to wait much longer. Thank you to the incredible artists who came together, united in their crafts, to help bring this vision to life. Now, let’s go change the world. #emmys
King, who took home the gold in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress, Limited Series or Movie, for her role as Angela Abar/Sister Night in Watchmen, accepted her award wearing a shirt featuring Taylor’s face. She too spoke out on the topic in the virtual press room, “The cops [responsible for Taylor’s murder] have still not been held accountable. [Breonna] represents decades, hundreds of years of violence against black bodies. I felt like [this show] was a perfect opportunity to wear Breonna’s likeness, representing her and her family.”
Asked what she would say to Chisholm, who died in 2005, Aduba said, “It would be to thank her for doing that hard thing. In a time when women, black woman, a woman of color, who are supposed to occupy a very narrow amount of space, she was not afraid to live up to the fullness of her potential. It’s hard to be the first. She was willing to do that and make it her life’s work.”
Aduba also praised late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on Friday. “This is a woman who shaped culture and history for women,” the actress noted. “She will be forever missed. She carried a lot of weight on her shoulders. We thank her for carrying that weight.”
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While some feel actors should leave politics and causes at home, King and Aduba believe just the opposite and that it is incumbent upon artists, who have platforms, to use them to their fullest potential.
“When I saw my sister had on the same shirt, it was confirmation that this was right [that I wear mine, too],” King detailed.
King has won four Emmys over the last five years – two for her work on American Crime and one for Seven Seconds — and has experienced the joy of accepting her statues in a room filled with peers, fellow nominees, and industry colleagues. She notes that she prefers actual ceremonies over virtual ones.
“There’s something about being in the same room and being able to share that moment with your peers and family and hug and to be able to look everyone in the face,” she says. “I’m missing that. I like the ‘real’ awards – not that these are fake!”
Aduba’s Instagram bio reads: “Growing up, I never thought there was a seat for me, so I’ve decided to build my own table.” With what would she like to amend that? “I’d like to add more chairs where others can come sit,” Aduba responded.
One of the evening’s more endearing moments was Aduba dashing off to inform her mother that she had won the Emmy. “She was excited,” Aduba shared. “She wasn’t fully grasping [the virtual ceremony]. When I told her, she said, ‘What do you mean the Emmys are here in the house? Are people coming here?’ I said, ‘No. We’re doing a really big Zoom. She was so excited and so proud.”