Congrats to Regina King on her Emmy and the fans loved her casual wardrobe, as she wore a Breonna Taylor T-shirt to support racial injustice.
On Sunday night, Regina King posted a photo of her posing in a sumptuous Schiaparelli Couture gown to her Instagram, a few hours after she won an Emmy for her performance in HBO’s Watchmen. But when she accepted the award via video chat during the Emmys telecast, she was wearing something much simpler: a hot pink suit also from Schiaparelli and a T-shirt that featured Breonna Taylor’s face.
Accepting the award from her own home gave King an opportunity to turn the rules of award fashion on their head and make a different kind of statement.
King wasn’t the only nominee who used the slightly relaxed dress code—the official mandate was “come as you are, but make an effort”—as an opportunity for overt political expression. Mrs. America’s Uzo Aduba, who won the best supporting actress in a limited series award for her portrayal of presidential contender Shirley Chisholm, wore a shirt with Taylor’s name. Sterling K. Brown wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, and Watchmen’s showrunner Damon Lindelof wore one that said “Remember Tulsa ’21,” a reference to the racist massacre in that city that was depicted in the show’s first episode. The Good Place’s William Jackson Harper wore a shirt that read “Good Trouble,” a reference to John Lewis’s famous quotation. It also came in a slightly more irreverent form when Insecure’s Yvonne Orji showed off a fist shaved into the left side of her head.
While political statements have never been totally absent from awards season, the last few years have seen a new wave of red carpet activism. In 2018, nearly every single show saw sartorial messaging, from a black-dress code in support of #MeToo at the Golden Globes, to Time’s Up pins and orange ribbons for gun safety at the Oscars.
It seemed inevitable that the reconfigured Emmy ceremony on Sunday night would go to some lengths to address the moment. A pretty high proportion of the night’s speeches urged viewers to vote, but the most powerful statements came when actors took a step back from glamour and let their shirts do the talking.