Fans of Ryan Murphy's HBO drama got nervous early on during the Emmys when all of the TV movie's cast members lost out on their nominations, but by midway through the show, it became clear their worries were unfounded: The Normal Heart took home the Emmy for Outstanding TV Movie. Beating our Killing Kennedy, Sherlock, The Trip to Bountiful and Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, the AIDS-focused film eked out a win in the biggest category it was nominated in, but its proudest moment came during its acceptance speech, when director Murphy took the time onstage to acknowledge those suffering from AIDS and encourage viewers to spread awareness and get involved.
Joined by the cast and crew of the film, including Larry Kramer, the creator of The Normal Heart play and a legendary AIDS activist, Murphy looked grateful and emotional as he accepted the award. He thanked Kramer for his inspiration, as well as two of the film's stars, Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts, for helping to get the movie made, before taking on a more serious tone. Speaking to young viewers, he encouraged them to "find a cause that you believe in, that you will fight for, that you will die for," and to research organizations fighting to eradicate AIDS and support its survivors.
"This is for all of the hundreds of thousands of artists who have passed from HIV/AIDS since 1981," he said. "Your memory and your passion burns on in us."
It was an important, eloquent speech, and Kramer's frail but overjoyed presence made the moment especially moving. After last year's cringeworthy awards show speeches from the cast and crew of the similarly-themed Dallas Buyers Club, it was also a huge relief to see Murphy taking the time to actually talk about the issues featured in his film, not gloss over or misrepresent them. With Miley Cyrus' homeless-awareness speech at the VMAs on Sunday night, it's been a weekend filled with surprising, heartfelt awards show sensitivity; here's hoping it's a trend that continues on for ceremonies to come.