It was quite a night for moms at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards. The evening’s biggest winners—HBO’s Big Little Lies and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale—feature multidimensional mothers at the heart of the shows. And, as usual, almost all of the winners gave wonderfully touching shoutouts to their moms in their acceptance speeches.
But the best moment of all—especially for working moms in particular—was Nicole Kidman’s heartfelt speech after winning the Emmy for leading actress in a limited series, for her portrayal of a mom battling domestic abuse in Big Little Lies.
“I’m also a mother and a wife. I have two little girls—Sunnie and Faith. And my darling Keith who I asked to help me pursue this artistic path. And they have sacrificed so much for it,” she said. “So this is yours. I just want my two little girls to have this on their shelf and to look at it and go, ‘Every time my mumma didn’t put me to bed it’s because of this—at least I got something!’”
The wry joke earned knowing chuckles from the audience, likely because it’s a sentiment working parents know well. We often miss milestones and everyday moments with our kids while we pursue our passions. It can admittedly be hard on our children. But what Nicole said next is the perfect antidote to the pain that comes from missing those moments:
“Also I want them to know that sometimes when you’re acting you get a chance to bring a bigger message, and this is their contribution and your contribution: We shine a light on domestic abuse.”
In other words, by allowing their mom to follow her dreams, Nicole’s daughters allowed her to be part of something bigger. It’s a notion that’s applicable to all working moms, and not just actresses. When moms go to work as teachers and doctors and lawyers and electricians, we do our part to help make the world a little brighter—and when our hard work is recognized, it makes our sacrifices as working mothers much easier to bear. It also makes for a great lesson to teach our sons and daughters.
And Nicole’s speech wasn’t the only way moms stole the show. If you didn't get a chance to watch, here are some other ways working moms rocked the night:
Every single major cast member member of Big Little Lies—a complex and darkly comedic series about moms—received an Emmy nomination, and three took home a trophy. In addition to Nicole, Alexander Skarsgård snagged the award for best supporting actor in a limited series and Laura Dern won for outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries. In the series, she plays Renata Klein, a hard-charging working mom and CEO who becomes all-too-relatable as the show goes on. “I feel very proud to be part of reflecting fierce women and mothers, finding their voice,” Laura said in her acceptance speech.
Alexander was one of the many stars who brought his mom as his date to the awards show. In his winner’s speech, he thanked her for flying all the way from Stockholm, Sweden. “And thanks for giving birth to me. That was pretty cool as well,” he added. Indeed, thank YOU, mama Skarsgård.
The night’s biggest winner, for outstanding drama series, was The Handmaid’s Tale, a show based on the Margaret Atwood novel about women living in a dystopian world where they are treated as property of the state. Three cast members took home a trophy, including Ann Dowd and Alexis Bledel (both moms) and Elisabeth Moss, who plays a mother torn apart from her child.
Elisabeth Moss was another celeb who brought her mom as her plus-one. When the actress won for outstanding lead actress in a drama series, she gave a hilarious and touching tribute to her mother that had to be bleeped out. “You are brave and strong and smart,” Elisabeth said to her mom. “You have taught me that you can be kind and a f*cking badass.” (When Elisabeth was growing up, her mom Linda was a harmonica player in a blues band.)
Reese Witherspoon, who was nominated for her work in Big Little Lies, summed up the night perfectly when she gave a rousing cri de coeur for bringing more women to the small screen. "It’s been an incredible year for women in television, can I just say? Bringing women to the front of their own stories and making them the hero of their own stories, and thank you for that opportunity and for audiences to wrap their arms around us." Here, here!