What you saw on TV was only half the story: The Emmys red carpet is even more of a spectacle behind the scenes. Let us walk you through the night, start to finish.
The carpet to get into the Microsoft Theatre opens two hours and 30 minutes before show time. At many award shows, the celebrity arrivals get off to a slow start, but at the Emmys, everyone shows up early. The stars want the airtime; obviously, they love television! TV stars are known to be chatty, and we found this to be true, even under the circumstances of a rushed, hectic, frantic, and ridiculously hot red carpet. It was a scorching 95 degrees. The carpet was outside, and though tented, nothing was stopping the sauna-like feeling that crept inside the venue.
The stars weren’t happy about it; however, they put on their smiles and braved the heat in the name of glamour. Yes, there was visible dripping from all surfaces. Yes, we saw people—men and women both—sweat through their clothes. It was a sight to see publicists trailing their clients with blotting papers, like Allison Janney, who dotted her forehead a bunch on the red carpet before throwing away her packet on stage during her acceptance speech. Amy Schumer and Ellie Kemper took it up a notch and brought portable mini fans to cool them down (Schumer’s was neon green, Kemper’s was a larger rectangle with a vent). “The struggle is real out here in the red carpet,” Laverne Cox, in Calvin Klein Collection, said as she wiped her brow. Schumer said she was melting like the Wicked Witch of the West. Really, there was no fighting it.
When the heat wasn’t the focus, smart girls were. Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls organization teamed with the Television Academy and Twitter to ask smart questions, and we joined in, asking stars their best advice for girls around the world. “Don’t be afraid to have your own opinion,” Modern Family star Sarah Hyland (in Zac Posen) told us. “Don’t take no for an answer. Fight. Because people try to bring you down. People try to get in the way of your dreams. But if you set your mind to something, you can accomplish that.”
Kemper channeled the happiness and joy of her character on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for her advice. “Don’t be afraid to correct someone if they’re wrong,” she said. “You don’t have to be mean about it, but you shouldn’t be afraid to correct someone if they’re wrong. I feel like that’s very Kimmy advice, too.”
The momentum of girl power continued straight through to the show. Jill Soloway earned a roar inside the theater for her Transparent wins, as did the multiple trophies given out to the women who took part in Olive Kitteridge. Earlier, Zoe Kazan of the show said being part of it was a highlight of her career. “My character Denise felt like a real person to me,” she said. “She has a real sweetness to her. And I liked to bring out that part of myself.”
Uzo Aduba made my entire row cry when she bawled through her thank yous (her “1,000 thank yous”) on stage. Though nothing was as powerful or elicited as big of a standing ovation than when How to Get Away with Murder’s Viola Davis won the Best Actress in a Drama delivered a rousing speech that called for change. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” said Davis. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” Seeing Kerry Washington tearing up and Taraji P. Henson cheering in the aisles was one of the most memorable moments of the night.
After Game of Thrones took home Best Drama Series, it was time to party. “It’s very well deserved,” said Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jamie Lannister on the award-winning series, of the win. “We all work so hard on making that show and it’s so complicated. We’re all proud to be invited here.”
The Governors Ball is the official after-party, and while it is housed right next door at the Los Angeles Convention Center, it felt like a hike. Thousands of people exited the Microsoft Theater at once en route to that one place, so it felt a little like herding cattle. We were herded next to The Voice host Carson Daly, who proudly showed off his Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition, while trying to find his colleagues.
All the winners darted straight to the back of the Swarovski-crystal bedecked venue to get their Emmys engraved. We spotted Uzo Aduba taking a selfie with her statue.
Andrea Bocelli kept the crowd entertained with a set of his classical tunes, including the hit “Ave Maria.” Dancing with the Stars hottie Maksim Chmerkovskiy busted a few moves on stage as guests chowed down. Dinner included a fig salad, steak, and a chocolate mousse dessert, but most people left before desserts were even served to get a head start on the after-parties.
It wasn’t easy to get out of there, though. By the end of the night, many of the women were limping out of the Los Angeles Convention Center due to the treachery of wearing high heels. We saw The Good Wife’s Christine Baranski carry her jeweled pumps in her hand while walking to her limo. Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany ditched her footwear altogether to go barefoot on the cement without a care in the world.
The craziest scene, though, was simply the limo pickup area. With thousands itching to get on to their after-parties, the limo line suffered a 30-minute backup. And there is nothing to more obvious to remind you that these stars are real people than seeing them impatiently waiting for their valets. We spotted Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner running to his SUV when they called his limo number, Bradley Whitford making the rounds outside with his fedora happily in place, and the crew from Andy Samberg’s Lonely Island group booking it to their vehicle. While the red carpet is fine and dandy, the ceremony is fun, and the Governors Ball is delicious, the exit scenario is really a show in itself.
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