Cord Jefferson thanked his therapist during his virtual acceptance speech at the 2020 Emmy Awards. “Thank you to my therapist Ian,” he said. “I am a different man than I was two years ago,” he added.
Jefferson won for Outstanding Writing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special for his work on HBO’s Watchmen. It is his first Emmy award. He shares the honor with the series’ creator Damon Lindelof.
The journalist-turned-scriptwriter also advocated for free access to mental health resources for all during his speech. “Therapy should be free in this country,” he stated.
The episode Jefferson won the award for is titled “This Extraordinary Being,” which explores the generational effects of radicalized trauma through the eyes of a police officer who is one of few Black officers on the force in the 1938. One of the episode’s most jarring scenes features Angela Abar/Sister Night (played by fellow Emmy winner Regina King) experiencing the lynching of the officer by his fellow policemen from the viewpoint of the terrified victim.
Her brutal murder by proxy became instant think piece fodder for the gripping way it depicted racially motivated violence.
“This is about generational trauma,” Jefferson told Gia Peppers about the episode during an appearance on The Color Of Change Podcast. “This is about how something could happen 100 years ago and still be affecting people nowadays.”
“I think that is such a crucial and vital lesson,” he continued.
The writer also acknowledged one of the true traumatic experiences the sci-fi series is based on the very real Tulsa Massacre during his speech. He dedicated his award to the victims of the 1921 massacre and referred to the crimes committed during the horrific event as the show’s “original sin.”
Jefferson has previously written for other critically acclaimed shows including HBO’s Succession, NBC’s The Good Place, and Netflix’s Master of None.