What 'Master of None's' Emmy wins and losses say about the future of TV.

Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari gave a funny, important speech at the Emmys on Sept. 18, 2016.

The duo accepted the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for their show, "Master of None" on Netflix — a big win for diverse television and the people behind the scenes who make it.

"There's 17 million Asian-Americans in this country, and there's 17 million Italian-Americans. They have 'The Godfather,' 'Goodfellas,' 'Rocky,' 'The Sopranos.' We got Long Duk Dong," Yang said, referencing the stereotypical character from "Sixteen Candles."


"We have a long way to go. But I know we can get there."

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

It was one of those speeches that should have gone about five minutes longer — not just because it was fantastic, but because Ansari totally got cut off by the music before he could give what was probably going to be an epic speech himself.

Watching Ansari get rushed off stage wasn't the only downer for his fans, though; soon after, we watched as he lost what would have been an enormous win in a different category.

Ansari was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. He would have been the first South Asian actor to ever win in a leading category.

But he lost. And that, of course, means there's still never been a South Asian actor to win a leading category. Ever!

Although Ansari's co-writing win was great, his acting nod loss (as well as his show's loss in Outstanding Comedy Series) touches on the state of diversity on television Yang alluded to earlier. Because while the Emmys may be more diverse than the Oscars, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Peabody.

Throughout the 68 Emmy award shows, no East Asian actor has ever won, either. (None!) 30 years have gone by since the last black woman was nominated for Lead Actress in a Comedy (shout-out to Tracee Ellis Ross for breaking the streak this year). And the acting slots for drama? They’ve been particularly behind on the diversity front — this year, just three of the 24 acting slots in those categories went to people of color. (These stats are all on top of the fact Ansari's loss was to quite the problematic category favorite.)

That's not OK to the "Master of None" star.

Ansari has a history of speaking out on the importance of diversity in Hollywood. And he walks the walk, too.

As a co-creator of "Master of None," he's helped develop one of the most diverse casts on TV right now. He gets why representation in our media matters.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

"I want to thank Netflix and Universal for believing in us and letting us tell our stories," he said back in May at the Peabody Awards. "I think they really seem to get what diversity really is. It's not, 'Hey, let's give this white protagonist a brown friend!' No. It's, 'Let's have a show where there's a token white guy.' And that's what [our show] is."

Things are looking up though. Despite Ansari’s loss tonight, diversity at the Emmys have gotten a lot better recently.

"I believe in us," Yang said in his Emmys speech. "It's just gonna take a lot of hard work."

That hard work is already paying off.

This year, 25% of the acting nominees were people of color — since the first Emmys, just 9% of the nominees in total have been actors of color — so 2016 was certainly a step up.

Even better, it’s probably not a one-off. The past few years have boasted relatively inclusive nomination slots, which means there’s every reason to be hopeful diversity at the Emmys isn’t just a fad.

Check out Upworthy’s timeline of trailblazers who’ve helped make the 2016 Emmys one of the most diverse ever.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

JediMentat 44 / Flickr

Starbucks is the most popular coffee chain in the world and it's also one of the greatest producers of waste. The company uses more than 8,000 coffee cups per minute, which adds up to four billion a year. Over 1.6 million trees are harvested every year to make its disposable cups.

Since the cups are lined with plastic only four cities in the U.S. will accept them for recycling.

Starbucks has attempted to address this issue in the past by making bold proclamations that it will reduce its waste production, but unfortunately, they have yet to yield substantial results.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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