At Emmys, "Big Little Lies" stars call for better roles for women

Last Updated Sep 18, 2017 9:00 AM EDT

HBO series "Big Little Lies," a show about a group of coastal California mothers, murder and the lies they tell, dominated the limited series categories at Sunday night's Emmy awards. The show's stars used their platform to call for more roles and better opportunities for women in Hollywood.

"It's been an incredible year for women, can I just say. Bring women to the front of their own series," Witherspoon said during her speech for the show's outstanding limited series win. "Thank you for giving us these stories."

Witherspoon, who is one of the producers of the series, went up against co-star Nicole Kidman in the best actress category. While Kidman took home the trophy, the actress said, "Reese, I share this with you."


"This is a friendship that created opportunities out of a frustration because we weren't getting offered great roles. So now, more great roles for women, please," Kidman said.

Witherspoon told "CBS This Morning" last week about her career shift to producing, citing a lack of strong roles for women. 

"I don't see women at the center of their own movies as much as I would like to," she said. "There was one moment where I read this script that came in and my agent sent it to me, and it was just awful and I called my agent, I said, 'I'm not gonna do this. Who would wanna do this?' He said, 'Every actress in Hollywood wants this part' and it was just a lightbulb moment for me that I thought I have to do better. And I have to create more and do better for other women, and create opportunities for other women."

Laura Dern won the supporting actress nod for her turn as a powerful businesswoman and fiercely protective mother in the series.

"I've been acting since I was 11 years old and I think I have worked with maybe 12 women, so I want to thank the Television Academy for honoring our show and working with this incredible tribe of fierce women," Dern said.

Kidman, whose character is abused by her husband, also spoke about shedding light on domestic abuse.

"It is a complicated, insidious disease," she said. "It exists far more than we allow ourselves to know. It is filled with shame and secrecy, and by you acknowledging me with this award, it shines a light on it even more."

The event put shows dominated by strong female leads to the fore, with "The Handmaid's Tale", "Veep" and "Big Little Lies" winning their categories. Lena Waithe became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing for the Thanksgiving Day episode of Master of None.