Fans of Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown and NBC's This Is Us were not pleased when the winner of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series was played off the stage. Sterling K. Brown was played off by the Emmys towards the end of his speech, and, needless to say, people were angry that the actor's acceptance speech was cut short. Fans weren't just disappointed because, as one of the leads in This Is Us, Brown has become a household name and fan favorite, and they weren't just disappointed because he was giving one of the most fun, heartfelt, and entertaining speeches of the night. No, fans were most upset that Brown would be played off considering he is the first black actor to win this award since 1998.
"19 years ago, Detective Frank Pembleton held this joint, as impeccably played by Andre Braugher," Brown said in his speech. Braugher, who won for his work in Homicide: Life on the Street, was the last black actor to win the award. "I just wanted to say, thank you Mr. Braugher. Whether it is at Stanford University or on this Emmys stage, it is my supreme honor to follow in your footsteps." Brown then went on to thank his This Is Us co-stars, calling them "the best white family a brother has ever had."
Brown was still thanking people when the band started playing him off with striking volume. "Our writers, you are our life's blood," Brown was saying when the music started. Dedicated to his speech, Brown ignored the cue and attempted to speak over the music, adding, "You can play. Nobody got that loud music." At other moments in the show, when acceptance speeches went a little long, winners were played out with soft music, as is customary during awards shows. However, for some reason, Brown was immediately played off with a loud orchestration. Still, the actor kept going, before eventually being forcefully cut off when producers turned off his mic.
Though it was likely due to the timing of the show — Brown's category came late in the evening, and with only about a dozen minutes left, producers likely wanted to move forward — fans at home were confused by the choice.
Still more viewers noted how cold it seemed for the Emmys to cut off Brown, accepting a historic Emmy as a performer of color, while fellow Emmy winner Nicole Kidman had just been given plenty of time to speak. An especially awkward truth considering how much the Emmys seemed to want a pat on the back for their diverse nominees this year. (Diversity of nominees was mentioned twice in the broadcast.)
Luckily, after he left the stage to speak to the press, Brown was asked if he'd like to continue his speech, and he said yes. "I wanted to thank our writers. A show doesn't get seven acting nominations without some impeccable, beautiful, thoughtful writing," he said. "You guys are our life's blood." Brown went on to thank the many This Is Us directors before getting to the show's creator, Dan Fogelman.
"He makes me laugh and cry in equal parts and keeps me coming back for more," Brown said. "He's not trying to make American great again, he's trying to make it the best that it's ever been. And I love him for taking me on this journey with him." Of course, Brown also took some time to thank his wife, fellow actress Ryan Michelle Bathe, and their two sons. "They cut me off before I got to thank my wife," he exclaimed. "You're everything. You make my life worth living and you gave me two of the most beautiful things that God has ever put on this planet, my sons."
Now that's one hell of a speech.