Kit Steinkellner
August 26, 2014 10:57 am

While only 26 percent of nominees at last night’s Emmy Awards were women, there was plenty of female power—and a little controversy—surrounding the show. Here are 10 women who shook up the awards and got everyone talking.

1. Sarah Silverman, Who Changed the Red Carpet Dialogue  

You know that thing where ladies get on the red carpet and all the red carpet reporters want to talk about is her outfit and fingernails and there never really seem to be that many questions about a woman’s work as an artist and entertainer or even what she was nominated for? Well, last night, Sarah Silverman (who was nominated and won her second Emmy for her HBO variety special) called out these treat in’-ladies-different shenanigans hard. When E!’s Giuliana Rancic complimented Silverman’s outfit, then stuck her mic out, Silverman shot back, “Why did you put the microphone in front of me? You didn’t say a question, you’re just like, ‘Hey, you’re dressed like a nominee.'” She also called B.S. on E!’s “clutch cam,” by shocking everyone. When asked what was in her purse, she revealed the pot vaporizer she had stashed in her bag—it probably wasn’t what the network had in mind when they asked to rifle through women’s purses.

2. The Woman Behind the Hashtag #AskHerMore

Speaking of only asking women on the red carpet about dresses and purses, there was actually a hashtag created for that. #AskHerMore, created by Jen Siebel Newsom‘s The Representation Project, was a hashtag campaign launched to urge reporters to ask women better, more respectable red carpet questions. Hundreds of viewers took to Twitter with complaints about the amount of hair color questions, and requests to treat actresses with the same respect on the red carpet as actors.

3. Julianna Margulies, Who Gave an Awesome Speech

Full disclosure: I am the biggest Good Wife fan there ever was. I am like patient zero for that show’s fanbase. So I was freaking out more than anyone when Julianna Margulies took home a well-deserved Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a drama. And her speech was gracious times infinity. She was basically like, “No, I’m only good because the writers are angels sent from heaven who are really good at writing.” She also gave a nice shout out to the ladies. “What a wonderful time for women on television,” she said in her speech. “And all the women that I’m nominated with here tonight is such a testament to that.” 

4. Sophia Vergara (and the Pedestal Controversy)

Bruce Rosenblum, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Scientists, put Modern Family‘s Sofia Vergara up on a rotating pedestal that showed off all her curves while giving a speech about the state of today’s television industry, and a lot of people watching were like, “This is gross, please stop treating this powerful woman like a prop.” And some of those people expressing outrage on Twitter included Tegan and Sarah (“What is happening? Is this to highlight the sexism of the universe?”) and Katie Couric (“I love @SofiaVergara but did anyone find that schtick somewhat offensive?) Vergara blasted critics of the segment, “I think it’s absolutely the opposite. It means that somebody can be hot and also be funny and make fun of herself. I think it’s ridiculous that somebody started this—I know who she was—who has no sense of humor [and should] lighten up a little bit.” So there are your two sides, you pick where you want to land on this one.

5. Director Gail Mancuso, Who Made History

This is the second year in a row that Mancuso has won Outstanding Directing of a Comedy Series (days before her win, I interviewed her for a SoCal newspaper and was blown away by her awesomeness), and her win is not only well-deserved, but critical for a profession where the dearth of women is just dumb in its dearthness. She’s the second woman in history to take the category, which means there have only been three wins total. It was heartening to see more women nominated in this category this year (Jodie Foster for Orange is the New Black was also in the mix) but still, let’s do better, entertainment industry.

6. Breaking Bad Writer Moira Walley-Beckett

Walley-Beckett won her statue for writing Breaking Bad”s “Ozymandias” and good lord was it thrilling to see a woman win for her work on what is most likely the darkest television series in the history of western civilization.

7. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Who Kicked Ass and Took Names

Louis-Dreyfus won her 5th Emmy for her outstanding work as a lead actress on Veep because have you SEEN Veep and also have you seen Louis-Dreyfus in ANYTHING? Also of note, last year Louis-Dreyfus broke Lucille Ball’s 13 nominations record and is currently the most nominated comedic actress in the awards show’s history. And did you SEE that Bryan Cranston kiss—followed by the perfectly placed Seinfeld reference? She be funny.

8. Allison Janney, Who Won Twice

Louis-Dreyfus isn’t the only one playing the multiple-wins game. Allison Janney won her second Emmy THIS YEAR. She won a Creative Emmy last week for her guest work on Masters of Sex and an Emmy last night for her supporting work on Mom. GET it, girl.

9. The One Woman Stephen Colbert Thanked 

When Colbert stepped up for his Outstanding Variety Series win, he congratulated his writing staff for winning Outstanding Writing in a Variety Series at the Creative Emmys last week, and then awkwardly half-apologized/passive-aggressively did not apologize for only having one female writer on a staff of 19. “I’m so proud of those guys—and one woman. Sorry for that, for some reason.” I HOPE he was playing “Colbert the character” in that moment, I also hope he’s been playing “Colbert the character” every time he looks at his staff of EIGHTEEN DUDES and ONE LADY and thinks that in 2014 that’s remotely acceptable, because otherwise I’m about to start having some problems with “Colbert the actual person in real life.”

10. Kerry Washington, Who Put the Night in Perspective

Kerry Washington spoke out about the Ferguson tragedy in a pre-show interview and it was one of the most important moments of the night. When asked about her Emmy nomination—which, had she won, would have made her the first African American winner in the category of Lead Actress in a drama—she had a really powerful, grounding response. Michael Brown’s funeral was also on Monday, and it hit home hard for the actress. “This has been a really complicated day for me,” Washington told the reporter. “I started the day watching the funeral services for Michael Brown. And so it’s a lot to wrap your head around being an African American in this country right now.”

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