The Emmys 2021: Kansas City native Jason Sudeikis wins big

Connor Stewart

Jason Sudeikis, the humble comedy actor from the Kansas City metro, scored his first Emmy win for Best Male Lead in a Comedy Series for “Ted Lasso.” 

Sudeikis delivered a heartwarming speech, paying tribute to mentor and “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels, who was hilariously missing in action for it. He went on to thank his cast, crew and family, saying it is a team effort. 

“This show is about mentors and teachers. This show is about teammates,” said Sudeikis. “I am only as good as you guys make me look.”

Sudeikis is an area local, having grown up in Overland Park where he attended Jesuit Rockhurst High School and Shawnee Mission West High School. After graduating, he went to Fort Scott Community College on a basketball scholarship. He left before he finished college to begin performing improvisational comedy at Comedy City in Kansas City, before heading on to “Saturday Night Live” fame. 

The Apple TV Plus series, which Sudeikis co-created and executive produces on, follows the titular Ted Lasso as he goes from small-time American football coach to leading a professional soccer team in England. It racked up a record-breaking 20 Emmy nominations, the most for any comedy series in its first season. 

Sudeikis was not the only one from “Ted Lasso” to win big. Hannah Waddingham scored an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy and was having the time of her life at the ceremony. Her exhilarated scream for her first Emmy win kicked off the show with some great energy. 

Brett Goldstein also won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy for his role in “Ted Lasso.” The show itself won the crowning achievement of Best Comedy Series to cap off the comedy category. 

Michaela Coel, the creator, writer, director and star of the HBO limited series “I May Destroy You,” won for Best Writing for a Limited Series. With the win, she has become the first Black woman to win in that category. Instead of thanking those that helped her along the way like most other nominees, she instead took her chance to give a stirring speech to those watching.

“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable,” said Coel. “Visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success. Do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.” 

Coel capped it off by dedicating “this story to every single survivor of sexual assault,” making it a serious highlight of the night. 

Her speech far surpassed Scott Frank’s acceptance speech for Best Directing in a Limited Series for “The Queen’s Gambit.” Frank marched up to the stage with two pages in hand and promptly ignored proper award show etiquette by dismissing three separate music cues to exit the stage. His kind words of gratitude were ultimately lost in his attempt to have his moment that took time away from the other winners that worked just as hard to be there. 

The late Michael K. Williams lost to an absent Tobias Menzies from “The Crown.” This was the big moment that critics of the Emmys pointed at to show how the academy’s record 44% non-white actors nominated were all shut out by white performers.

Comedian Conan O’Brien stole the show in every little moment he could. He saluted Chief Executive of the Television Academy Frank Scherma as he gave the annual Emmy speech. He crashed Stephen Colbert and his team’s win for Best Live Variety Special, all in wacky, good fun. He livened up the show in a way that many presenters’ jokes and planned sketches were just unable to match. 

“The Crown” continued to dominate nearly every category it was in, bringing in seven wins including Best Drama Series, shutting out some pop culture favorites like “The Mandalorian” and “The Boys.”

“Hamilton” beat out the favored winner, Bo Burnham’s “Inside,” an upset that brought legions of Burnham fans out in support online. Burnham wrote, directed, edited and starred in a special that encapsulated the 2020 pandemic experience and touched on the comedian’s mental health. 

The scope of the Emmys has changed in recent years, especially with the rise of streaming. This year, Best Comedy and Drama Series only had three cable television shows between the two categories. HBO had 130 total nominations, Netflix had 129 and Disney+ followed behind with 71. After a year of staying at home, the scale has tipped towards the growing number of streaming services as the top medium to consume quality content.

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