A lot of women were full of joy after Sunday's Emmy awards. I and the rest of the Internet just spent the past 24 hours celebrating them.

We celebrated the powerful, talented women like Viola Davis, Regina King, Queen Latifah, and Uzo Aduba who won awards that were long deserved and overdue — and, in some cases, who made history by receiving them.


Uzo Aduba doing what she does best: winning. Photo by Kevin Winters/Getty Images.

We celebrated the women like Taraji Henson who were honored by a nomination, cheered in solidarity with winners from the audience, and were shouted out from the stage.

We celebrated women like Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Kerry Washington, and Gabrielle Union who are a part of this incredible moment in history when black women are reigning supreme on the small screen.

Kerry Washington watching Viola Davis onstage. GIF via Us Magazine.

And, of course, we celebrated for all the little girls who, as a result of seeing these women succeed, will now have an even brighter, shinier glimmer of hope that they too can succeed in an industry that has historically shut them out.


The adorable Quvenzhané Wallis at the 2013 Academy Awards, repping for little girls everywhere. GIF via Blavity.

But there is one group of women that I have yet to see anyone celebrate. And no, I'm not talking about the Hattie McDaniels and Diahann Carrolls and all of the glorious, well-known legends who came before.

I'm talking about the women whose names we'll never know and about whom no articles were ever — or will ever — be written.

I'm talking about honoring the women who aren't still standing in Hollywood.

Whenever there is a victory or diversity milestone, it makes perfect sense to recognize the individuals whose unbelievable talent, work ethic, and popularity (combined with cultural circumstances, timing, and good luck) bring about these amazing "moments."

And because our society mistakenly believes itself to be a meritocracy in which only those with the most quantifiable talent succeed, we believe that those who win deserve it, that those who don't should keep on trying, and that above all else, giving up, tapping out, or otherwise "not making it" (as defined by the mainstream) is the cardinal sin.

It makes sense, then, that we only honor those who win the gold medal — or those who are still in the race striving for it.

Viola Davis reveling in the win that the world knew she deserved. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

But sexism, racism, and inequality of all kinds can leave a lot of casualties, dreams deferred, and alternate choices along the roadside.

There are tremendously talented women who worked very, very hard but never made it to the top. They did all the right things and had talent oozing from their pores but never got a lead role in a show or movie, never starred in a hit drama, and were never nominated for an award of any kind. And perhaps never will be.

There are those who, after years of rejection and slights, decided that financially supporting themselves and their families was more important than chasing a dream that seemed perpetually out of reach. So perhaps they left the industry, got a regular job, and continued their passion for acting only on the side.

There are those who stopped expecting or seeking validation from Hollywood and decided to build something outside of it altogether. These women my have built theater companies in their communities, created YouTube shows, taught drama in schools, or wrote and produced their own small, underfunded independent films.

As we celebrate the women who are finally receiving their just due, it's important to remember that history isn't made in a moment.

It is made from the years of hard work, tears, and effort of women who tried and, as Hillary Clinton famously said, made cracks in the glass ceiling, no matter how small.

For every Viola Davis, Regina King, Uzo Aduba, and Kerry Washington, there are thousands of these other women, women who don't have household names and who weren't drinking champagne Sunday night with our fierce, completely deserving crop of "It Girls."

For every Viola, Regina, Uzo, and Kerry, there are a million women whose names we don't know, who did their best and their best just wasn't good enough — not because of their worth or talent but because they ran headfirst into an industry that didn't value their gender and race.

Today we shouldn't just honor those who are winning. We should also honor all of those who lost — or left — a game that was so obviously rigged against them.

To put it another way, as Theodore Roosevelt famously said:

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

All of the women who have at any point stood in the arena that is Hollywood, who faced sexism and racism in an industry that pretends they doesn't exist, who ever set their sights on the line that Viola Davis and Uzo Aduba are crossing today and dared to take a run at it deserve a standing ovation.

Taraji Henson giving love, sharing Viola Davis' win. GIF via AwesomelyLuvvie.

Let's take a moment and give it to them too.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Laverne Cox in 2016.

When kids are growing up they love to see themselves in the dolls and action figures. It adds a special little spark to a shopping trip when you hear your child say “it looks just like me.” The beaming smile and joy that exudes from their little faces in that moment is something parents cherish, and Mattel is one manufacturer that has been at the forefront of making that happen. It has created Barbies with freckles, afro puffs, wheelchairs, cochlear implants and more. The company has taken another step toward representation with its first transgender doll.

Laverne Cox, openly transgender Emmy award winning actor and LGBTQ activist, is celebrating her 50th birthday May 29, and Mattel is honoring her with her very own Barbie doll. The doll designed to represent Cox is donned in a red ball gown with a silver bodysuit. It also has accessories like high heels and jewelry to complete the look. Cox told Today, “It’s been a dream for years to work with Barbie to create my own doll.” She continued, “I can’t wait for fans to find my doll on shelves and have the opportunity to add a Barbie doll modeled after a transgender person to their collection.”

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.