Amazon's transgender comedy 'Transparent' breaks through

LOS ANGELES - Amazon's dark comedy "Transparent" on Sunday became the first series created by an Internet streaming service to win an Emmy in a major category - after helping to promote acceptance of the transgender community.

Jeffrey Tambor won the Emmy for best actor in a comedy series, one of the top prizes in television, for his portrayal of a transgender woman whose family is coming to terms with the transition.

Series creator Jill Soloway, who drew inspiration from her transgender father in writing the story, won an Emmy for directing.

The show won a total of five Emmys out of 11 nominations - a landmark achievement for Amazon in the online retail giant's first year being nominated for its original programming.

"We don't have a trans tipping point yet - we have a trans civil rights problem," Soloway said, urging people to visit the website of the National Center for Transgender Equality and voice support for a bill protecting trans-equality.

She thanked Amazon boss Jeff Bezos for giving her "incredible freedom," and urged greater public awareness of the difficulties faced by trans men and women.

Tambor - a veteran actor with six previous Emmy nominations for his work on "Arrested Development" and "The Larry Sanders Show" - dedicated his award to the transgender community.

"Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your stories. Thank you for your inspiration," Tambor said to members of the community in his acceptance speech.

"I have been given the opportunity to act because people's lives depend on it." The series, which has earned raves from critics and has been renewed by Amazon for a second season, won Golden Globes earlier this year for Tambor and for best comedy.

Its Emmys success reflects the sweeping changes in how viewers consume television programming.

No longer wedded to traditional channels and cable subscriptions, more and more people are "cutting the cord" - relying on streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix for their television fix.

Netflix is the streaming pioneer, paving the way with its political thriller "House of Cards" and women's prison dramedy "Orange Is The New Black." It set the bar quite high in terms of quality, and showed it could compete with both traditional networks and premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime. Amazon is now following that path.

The second season of "Transparent" is due for release in December, with Angelica Huston joining the cast.

Transgender community in focus

Trans characters have been successfully featured on the big screen, notably with 1999's "Boys Don't Cry," which earned Hilary Swank an Oscar for best actress, and "Dallas Buyers Club" - which earned Jared Leto his Academy Award.

But beyond those exceptions, the characters often remained in the shadows - and were often portrayed as victims.

Then came "Transparent" a year ago, which showed the daily life of trans people - and showed they have the same problems as everyone else.

Caitlyn Jenner opened the door a bit more. The Olympic decathlon champion formerly known as Bruce, who came out as a transgender woman in a televised interview in April, broke down more walls.

The transgender community is still in Hollywood's spotlight with "The Danish Girl," starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo sex change surgery.

The film, soon to hit theaters, was a hit on the festival circuit and is generating serious Oscar buzz once again for Redmayne.

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