“The nominees for this next award astounded us with each of their uniquely remarkable, memorable performances this past year. But I’d like to take a moment to mention one nominee in particular, Michael K. Williams,” Washington said. “Michael was — so crazy to say, was — a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being who has left us far too soon. Michael, your excellence and artistry will endure. We love you.” She added, “I know you are here because you wouldn’t miss it.”
The “Scandal” actress later doubled down on her love for Williams while responding to a post about her Emmys tribute. “You are missed and you are loved Michael K. Williams,” she tweeted. “It was an honor to honor YOU.”
Williams was nominated for his role in “Lovecraft Country,” which he played alongside Jurnee Smollett. Days before the Emmy Awards, his costar penned a heartfelt tribute in honor of the acclaimed actor.
“My brother, my heart hurts so. A part of my brain refuses to accept it … shitty part about grief-it goes in stages. For me, it started w/ denial,” she captioned a photo of her and Williams. “When @jakesmollett called to tell me, my brain went, ‘Hell naw that’s not true, let me call Michael.’ And I called him. I called him over & over until my brain said, ‘Stop, he’s gone.’ I couldn’t breathe. [It’s] taken a while for my brain to metabolize how the world can continue to spin [without] him here in the physical form.”
The 2021 Emmys was filled with special moments. Aside from Washington’s mention of Williams, host Cedric the Entertainer paid homage to the late Biz Markie, opening up the event with a parody of “Just A Friend.” Debbie Allen also received the Governors Award for her contributions to television and her philanthropic efforts.