The actresses brought much-needed awareness to the unarmed Black victim of police brutality during one of the most-watched award shows of the year.
Trigger Warning: Police brutality, racism
This year's Emmy Awards looked incredibly different, with winners accepting their Emmys from their homes in light of the pandemic. However, one thing did not change. The awards show was used as a way for folks to organize and bring awareness to some of the most pressing problems in the United States—as any nationally-aired event should. Actresses Regina King and Uzo Aduba, who took home the Best Actress and Supporting Actress awards respectively, used their speeches to rally for Breonna Taylor, a young Black nurse who was shot by White police officers while she was asleep in her home.
Breonna Taylor represented tonight on 2 newly-crowned Emmy winners — Regina King, Uzo Aduba — on tonight's telecast more than six months after she was murdered by police who have still not been charged. #Emmys pic.twitter.com/RHyQU1YW7h— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) September 21, 2020
Both actresses wore t-shirts in tribute to Taylor. King's t-shirt, slightly hidden under a bright pink blazer, had the phrase "Say Her Name" printed on it along with a photo of the victim. Meanwhile, Aduba's t-shirt simply had her name spelled out in gold lettering. While neither award winners explicitly mentioned Taylor in their acceptance speeches, their t-shirts were enough of a message. Like many other Black people in the US, they too are evidently seeking justice for the victim, a 26-year-old nurse whose killers are yet to be held accountable for their actions in the court of law.
#BreonnaTaylor was murdered SIX months ago.— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) September 13, 2020
We have to keep fighting for her. We have to keep fighting for justice. #SayHerName pic.twitter.com/bokFTH5ldE
In a virtual Emmy Awards press room following her acceptance, nonetheless, King explained why she chose to wear the "Say Her Name" t-shirt. The Watchmen star explained why it fit the award show's theme ("come as you are") so perfectly. "The cops still haven’t been held accountable," she said. "She represents decades, hundreds of years of violence against Black bodies, Breonna Taylor does, and wearing Breonna’s likeness—representing her and her family and the stories that we were exploring, that we were presenting, that we were holding a mirror up to in Watchmen—it felt appropriate to represent with Breonna Taylor."
150 days since BREONNA TAYLOR was murdered. Too often BLACK WOMEN who die from police violence are forgotten. SAY HER NAME. This tee was made in partnership with the BREONNA TAYLOR Foundation to whom all profits are given. https://t.co/FgxDiUORBP pic.twitter.com/mWq1oybSWX— Regina King (@ReginaKing) August 10, 2020
Aduba, too, used her speech to thank the women of the limited series Mrs. America and did not explicitly highlight her t-shirt. Nonetheless, her fellow actress King was grateful that she chose to wear it. She told reporters, "When I saw my sister Uzo had on the same shirt, it was a confirmation that this was right." Aduba said she was "amazingly touched" by her words. The actress, best known for her role on Orange Is the New Black, stated, "Regina is who she says she is, which is my favorite thing about her. I loved when I saw her shirt, and standing in it with such strength and power that we all know she has. She's a born leader, and it made me so happy to see her wear it and to know that we are saying her name."
Uzo Aduba accepted her #Emmys win for 'Mrs. America' while wearing a Breonna Taylor shirt. pic.twitter.com/pASNAZayjv— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) September 21, 2020
Meanwhile, Taylor's killers, Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, are yet to be criminally charged. The city of Louisville, Kentucky, announced that it agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor's family last week (while simultaneously admitting no wrongdoing). Despite this, protesters have demanded that the officers responsible for Taylor's death to be charged.
City of Louisville, Kentucky will pay Breonna Taylor’s family $12 MILLION following her wrongful death at the hands of local police.— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) September 15, 2020
Taylor’s family is still calling for the arrest of the officers involved in her killing.
🔗: https://t.co/GndZOaeMo2 pic.twitter.com/Z5k4cy74PE