The Emmys are the biggest night in television, so it's no surprise that many of talented people who won awards used their speeches to advocate for causes they believe in. When Michelle Williams took the stage to accept her Leading Actress in a Limited Series trophy for her show-stopping performance as Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon, she delivered a powerful speech advocating for equal pay.
Below, find the transcript of Williams' speech, which spoke of the power of empowering actresses on set and the ripple it can have in the work as a whole.
"Thank you so much to the Television Academy for this and to the incredible cast and crew who worked so hard to make this TV show, especially you Sammy Rockwell, I know how hard you worked.
"I see this as an acknowledgement of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feel safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they'll be heard. When I asked for more dance classes, I heard, 'Yes.' More voice lessons, 'Yes.' A different wig and a pair of fake teeth not made out of rubber, 'Yes.' And all of these things, they require effort and they cost more money, but my bosses never presumed to know better than I did about what I needed in order to my job and honor Gwen Verdon. So I want to say thank you so much to FX and Fox 21 Studios for supporting me completely and for paying me equally, because they understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value and where do they put that value? They put it into their work.
"So the next time a woman, and especially a woman of color — because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart — tells you that she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her. Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment, and not in spite of it."
The issue of equal pay is personal for Williams; it was revealed in 2018 that her All the Money in the World co-star Mark Wahlberg made more than 10 times her salary to do re-shoots for the film after Kevin Spacey was cut from the final version.
Williams' Emmys speech was met with raucous applause and a standing ovation once she concluded. Her best friend and date for the evening, Busy Philipps, had tears in her eyes as Williams wrapped up.
Fosse/Verdon can be streamed on Hulu.