Praised docuseries Born This Way may have won the category last year, but now newcomer United Shades of America has snapped up the Emmy for Unstructured Reality Program – hardly surprising, given the strength and current relevance of its content. On the CNN show, which first aired in 2016, host W. Kamau Bell travels around the U.S. exploring different subcultures, interviewing everyone from Ku Klux Klan members to spring breakers to prison inmates, bringing his unique comic take to some difficult subjects.
Accepting the award, Bell thanked Amy Entelis and Jeff Zucker for ordering a “show with a black guy who had a dream.” He also thanked “all the people who showed up on the show to tell their stories.”
Echoing a point raised several times over the evening, not least by Ava DuVernay in her acceptance speech for 13th, Bell said, “Thank you for media and TV and movies” that demonstrate it takes “diversity and inclusion to make America a better place.”
Backstage, Bell said, when presenter LL Cool J paused before reading out the winner, he hadn’t expected his name to be called. “I was waiting for the words Born This Way,” he said. “It’s a great show, that show. This is also a good show.”
He also commented that going to places others would not did not leave him in fear of repercussions. “I’m much more worried about getting a story wrong than I am about physical danger,” he said, “but then I’m not my wife.”