The two male actors who won Emmy Awards in the comedy category on Sunday (Sept. 18) each won for playing middle-aged women—two very different women.
Louie Anderson’s Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy was for playing the mother of the lead character in FX’s Baskets, which stars Zack Galifianakis. And Jeffrey Tambor won outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for the second year in a row for his portrayal of Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman, in Amazon’s Transparent.
After thanking Transparent’s creator Jill Soloway for changing his life and career, Tambor made an impassioned appeal to the television community to give transgender talent more opportunities while accepting his award.
“Please give transgender talent a chance,” said Tambor. “Give them auditions. Give them their story.”
“One last thing,” he added. “I would be happy if I were the last cisgender male to play a transgender female.”
Soloway, who won the Emmy for outstanding director of a comedy series, also made a powerful plea to “stop violence against transgender woman, and topple the patriarchy.” And the transgender actress Laverne Cox, on the stage later to give an award, echoed Tambor’s words: “Give trans talent a shot.”
Anderson, a former standup comedian and longtime TV fixture, was a surprise winner. “I haven’t always been a very good man, but I play one hell of a woman,” the actor said while accepting the award. Anderson thanked his own mother, and said it was from her that he “stole every nuance, shameful look, cruel look, loving look, [and] passive aggressive line.”
During his monologue, host Jimmy Kimmel referred to Anderson’s role, joking about the lack of parts for older actresses in Hollywood: “Originally they were going to cast a woman for the role,” he said, “but it’s very hard to find an actress over 50 who needs a part, so they went to Louie.”