Michelle Williams' role in Fosse/Verdon earned her the award for outstanding actress in a limited series or a movie at the 2019 Emmy Awards

By Ashley Boucher
September 22, 2019 10:14 PM
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Cue the jazz hands! Michelle Williams won the outstanding actress in a limited series or a movie honor at the 2019 Emmy Awards.

The actress, 39, took home the award for her portrayal of Broadway dancer Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon and used her acceptance speech to stand up for equal pay.

“Thank you so much to FX and Fox 21 Studios for supporting me completely and 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,” Williams said at Sunday’s ceremony. “And then where do they put that value? They put it into her work.”

Michelle Williams accepting her award in L.A. on Sept. 22.
Kevin Winter/Getty

As her best friend Busy Philipps cheered her on in the crowd, Williams continued to champion pay equality for women of color.

“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 what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her,” she said. “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.”

Busy Philipps and Michelle Williams at the 2019 Emmy Awards on Sept. 22 in L.A.
Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Williams — who opened up about her own fight for equal pay while working on All the Money in the World closed out her speech by dedicating her award to her daughter Matilda.

“Matilda, this is for you, like everything else,” Williams said to the 13-year-old she had with her late ex Heath Ledger.

In the press room, Williams said learning she was making less money than male costars on All the Money in the World “woke me up.”

“I’d always known how difficult it was, I know from the inside how difficult it was to feel like you were ever really getting ahead, and it felt like no matter how many accolades I amassed, I still couldn’t make that translate into your retirement money or something that really felt like long term security,” she said. “And so the discrepancy in All the Money in the World is so huge that it really illustrated a larger point not just for myself, obviously. But as I said before, there was this difficulty for me of white woman in a privileged industry. How difficult is it for women of color across all industries? Tonight is a kind of like fairytale ending for me for my own personal story. And there really won’t be any satisfaction for me until the larger message is heard, and and that’s what I really wanted to point out tonight.”

Williams was up against Amy Adams, Joey King, Patricia Arquette, Aunjanue Ellis and Niecy Nash for the outstanding lead actress in a limited series or a movie award. Last year, Regina King took home the title for her starring role on Netflix’s Seven Seconds.

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Williams’ win on Sunday night marks her first Emmy win from her first nomination. The star — who has four Oscar nominations under her belt — won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn in 2012.

Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon and Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse.
FX

In FX’s Fosse/Verdon, Williams played Verdon to Sam Rockwell‘s Bob Fosse — and her on-screen love interest was also nominated for an Emmy Sunday night, in the outstanding lead actor in a limited series or a movie category.

The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards are airing live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles starting at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.