Entertainment, History & Now

Lee Jung-Jae wins Outstanding Lead Actor at the Emmys

Making history of course.

words by: Alee Kwong
Sep 16, 2022

Apart from Jimmy Kimmel making a fool of himself at this year’s Emmys, there was a lot to celebrate. The Asian and Black community stayed winning at the annual television awards ceremony. South Korean actor Lee Jung-Jae made Emmy-award history by taking home the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series award — making him the first Asian to win that category, and Squid Game the first non-English language series to be nominated and win.


Netflix’s Squid Game took the world by storm with its high-stakes storyline and stellar actor performances. The series is still Netflix’s largest success to date, garnering the largest viewership in the streaming platform’s history.


Lee was up against some serious contenders for the award: Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul, Adam Scott for Severance, Jason Bateman for Ozark, and Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong from Succession (Strong was the 2020 winner for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series). These are some of the biggest names in the industry, making Lee’s win that much more epic.


After accepting his award, Lee thanked his director, Hwang Dong-Hyuk “for making a realistic problem we all face come to life so creatively on the screen with a great script and amazing visuals.” Squid Game also won the Outstanding Drama Series category, and when accepting the historic award, Hwang expressed his hope that this Emmy wouldn’t be his last and added, “I want to thank the TV Academy for this honor and also a huge thank-you to Netflix. On to season two.”


As I mentioned before, Lee Jung-Jae and Hwang Dong-Hyuk were not the only people to make Emmy history. Zendaya also made a huge mark and won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her jaw-dropping performance as Rue in the HBO series Euphoria. This win not only makes Zendaya the youngest recipient of this award category, but the only Black woman to win in this category twice in a row.


This year’s Emmy award ceremony proved that the industry has much more room for non-English language media and that audiences are interested in broadening their horizons to hear different stories from other countries.


If you enjoyed Squid Game, here’s some other Korean movies and TV shows to check out.


Photo via Getty