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