Seattle native Jean Smart won the lead actress in a comedy series Emmy on Sunday night for her star turn in HBO Max’s “Hacks.”

In the critically acclaimed “Hacks,” Smart plays Deborah Vance, a veteran stand-up comic with a residency at a Las Vegas casino who’s coasting on her old material. 

Smart began her Emmy acceptance speech by thanking her late husband, Richard Gilliland, who died a week before production on the first season of “Hacks” wrapped earlier this year.

“I would not be here without him putting his career on the back burner so I could take advantage of [all the roles I’ve been offered],” Smart said, also thanking her children Conner and Forrest, who she called “very courageous individuals in their own right. And put up with mommy commuting to Philadelphia and back.”

Smart filmed “Mare of Easttown” outside Philadelphia and she was up for a supporting actress in a limited series Emmy for her role in that show, but the award went to “Mare” co-star Julianne Nicholson.


Smart was bitten by the acting bug while a student at Ballard High School, from which she graduated in 1969. She went on to study acting at the University of Washington.

In her “Hacks” acceptance speech, Smart thanked the showrunners, the show’s costumers, hair and makeup artists and her co-star, whom she dubbed Hannah “Mindbender” Einbinder.

“That’s her actual name,” Smart joked. “I could not have asked for a better person to bounce everything off of everyday. She’s a natural. She’s a precious human being. Every day we go to work is a joy. The words we get to say are a joy.”

Einbinder mouthed back, “I love you.”

During the E! red carpet Emmy preshow, Smart arrived with her child, Forrest, as her date.

“[I’m] very proud of her, she really deserves it,” Forrest said. “She worked really hard for everything.”

Smart’s win denied Hulu’s “Shrill,” cowritten by and based on the book by Seattle writer Lindy West, the biggest award it was nominated for: lead actress in a comedy for star Aidy Bryant.


Similarly the “Ted Lasso” win for best comedy series shut out Netflix’s “Cobra Kai,” which features Seattle actor, producer and restaurateur Yuji Okumoto.

Netflix’s “Bridgerton” — based on the novels by Seattle author Julia Quinn — received 12 nominations, including outstanding drama series, but was shut out in the major Emmy categories.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” won the Emmy for best reality competition series for the fourth year in a row, dashing the hopes of Bravo’s “Top Chef” Portland edition, featuring Seattle chef Shota Nakajima, and NBC’s “The Voice,” which featured local contestants including Payge TurnerHalley Greg and Savanna Woods.

Amazon Prime Video, which had won four Emmys last year, won none of the 19 categories for which it was nominated this year.