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Emmys night: big farewells, a plea for trans rights, Brits win big

The cast of "Game of Thrones" pose with author George R.R. Martin after winning the Emmy for best drama series
The cast of "Game of Thrones" pose with author George R.R. Martin after winning the Emmy for best drama series AFP
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Los Angeles (AFP)

The 71st Emmys on Sunday provided some big moments -- it stood as television's farewell to awards giants "Game of Thrones" and "Veep," but also produced a few poignant moments touching on issues from equal pay to transgender rights.

The following are a few key takeaways from the gala held in Los Angeles:

- 'They're human beings' -

Patricia Arquette, who won an Emmy for best supporting actress in a limited series for true crime series "The Act," paid tribute to her late transgender sister Alexis, who died in 2016, and called for the trans community's rights to be protected.

"In my heart, it's so sad," the actress said tearfully as she accepted her award. "I lost my sister Alexis and trans people are still being persecuted.

"I'm in mourning every day of my life, Alexis, and I will be the rest of my life for you until we change the world so that trans people are not persecuted.

"And give them jobs," she added. "They're human beings, let's give them jobs and let's get rid of this bias that we have everywhere."

Arquette won her Emmy for her portrayal of a mother who is believed to have suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, and stood accused of abusing her daughter by fabricating illnesses including cancer. It was the second of her career.

- Big night for British stars -

British stars scored big at this year's Emmys, with "Fleabag" creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge" and Jodie Comer of "Killing Eve" leading the charge.

"I was not expecting to get up from this seat tonight. Phoebe, I love you," a surprised Comer said, also explaining she had not invited her parents because she did not think she would win.

Jesse Armstrong, who won for best drama writing for "Succession," had a very British answer on hearing his name called out.

"Blimey, I'm quite overwhelmed, I didn’t expect that," he said.

"There’s quite a lot of British winners, maybe too many. Maybe you should have a think about those immigration restrictions," he added.

He said more, but the end of the sentence -- presumably a jab at US President Donald Trump -- was censored by the Fox television network, presumably for profanity.

Other British winners included Ben Whishaw, who won for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series for "A Very English Scandal," and John Oliver, who won for variety talk series and variety writing.

- 'Listen to her' -

Michelle Williams, who won for best actress in a limited series or movie for "Fosse/Verdon," made an impassioned plea for women's equality as she took home her golden statuette.

"My bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to do my job and honor Gwen Verdon," Williams told the audience.

"Thank you so much to FX and Fox 21 Studios for supporting me and paying me equally," she said.

"The next time a woman, especially a woman of color... tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her, because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it."

The award marks the first Emmy win for Williams for her starring role as Verdon, one of the greatest Broadway dancers of all time.

- That's a wrap -

They entertained millions of TV viewers for years, but Sunday marked an Emmys wrap for fantasy epic "Game of Thrones" and political satire "Veep."

The ceremony featured montages of scenes from both shows and standing ovations for their casts as they took the stage for a final bow.

"Game Of Thrones" had a total 59 wins, including 12 this year, over its eight-season run while "Veep" earned a total 17 Emmys during the seven seasons it ran, but none this year.

- 'Exonerated Five' -

Jharrel Jerome, who won for lead actor in a limited series or movie for "When They See Us," fought back tears as he accepted his Emmy, dedicating it to the five men who were the subject of the powerful series written and directed by Ava DuVernay.

"I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, chilling, waiting for my mom's cooking or something," said the 21-year-old. "But I'm here in front of my inspirations, here in front of people I'm so motivated by."

He then thanked "the Exonerated Five" -- Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Korey Wise, played by Jerome -- who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman in 1989 in New York's Central Park.

The five men were in the audience and gave the actor a standing ovation.

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