2 NYU Emmy winners discuss their work, awards and alma mater

Two winners of the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards spoke with WSN to share their reactions to winning and how their time at NYU influenced their professional careers.


The Emmys are highly distinguished awards that are given out to outstanding television shows and actors. (Courtesy of Academy of Television Arts & Sciences)

Bryn Borzillo, Senior Staff Writer

Ten NYU alumni were honored this year at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony — four of whom won Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Joshua “Domino” Schwartz and Susan Soon He Stanton, two Tisch alumni who received Emmys, were presented with their awards on Sept. 12. Schwartz and Stanton sat down with WSN to discuss their wins.

The following interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Schwartz received the Outstanding Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming award for his work on Episode 5 of “We’re Here,” a reality television series that features Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela Laquifa Wadley — former stars of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” 

Schwartz, who graduated from NYU in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in drama, said that he could not believe that he had won. “We’re Here” has been previously nominated for several honors, including the Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program award, but Schwartz said that this was his first time going up to the stage to accept an award.

WSN: How did you first get involved with “We’re Here?”

Schwartz: I met Bob the Drag Queen shortly before he was going to film “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and actually, at the time, I was working on Broadway at Hedwig and the Angry Inch as a hairdresser. I met him through the wigs supervisor there because Bob was looking for somebody who could ventilate wigs and I know how to do that. When he went on the show, I just did a couple of lace fronts for him, and then he came back and went, “Wait a minute, you make clothes?” And I went, “Well, yeah!” Since then, we’ve worked together a lot over the years. When he got asked to do “We’re Here,” he was going to be filming the pilot and he asked me to come on for that.  

WSN: During the show, what did your creative process look like?

Schwartz: For the entrance looks for each episode, we get given a topic — sometimes we have some input on that but for the most part, it’s the producers of the show who come up with some topic. In the pilot episode, we didn’t have one, and it was just like, “Have something for them to come into town with.” We had Bob and Shangela both looking like they were going to go to church and Eureka looking like she got off a spaceship. After that, I said to the director and the creator of the show, “We can’t do it like this anymore, this doesn’t look good.” So after that, they started coming up with topics kind of based on the location. 

WSN: What was going through your mind when you won?

Schwartz: I just didn’t believe it — it was shocking because we just weren’t even thinking about it anymore. We were in the middle of doing an episode, which is always crazy and hectic. There’s always a lot to do, and you’re trying to shift and move and create these things. It ruined our productivity for the rest of the day because we were all pretty excited about it, but at the same time, it’s like, “Awesome, now get back to work.”

WSN: How did your time at NYU influence your professional career?

Schwartz: Understanding how to focus creativity and design to create a consistent and clear vision. I’ve always made clothes, so that was kind of a separate part of it, but the program really taught more about design and understanding how to communicate visually which is, I’ve come to realize, not a thing that everybody even within the business fully understands. 

The most helpful thing that I learned is, “What is it that you’re trying to communicate here? What is it that you’re trying to say? What do you want the audience to respond to? What do you want the audience to perceive through your presentation of this character or this person?”

Susan Soon He Stanton graduated from Tisch in 2003 with a degree in dramatic writing and is a supervising producer on “Succession,” a dark comedy about a dysfunctional family line. She was honored for her work on the show, which won “Outstanding Drama Series” at the ceremony.

Stanton has been working on “Succession” — the winner of 13 Emmys — since 2019, but this is the first time that Stanton has received her own Emmy. She said she was proud to have been nominated for her work on the show, and she was excited to go on stage at the event.

WSN: Was this your first Emmy nomination?

Stanton: Officially, yes. This was the first year I was a high enough level producer to get my own physical Emmy, which was really exciting. I’ve been a part of the show for three seasons. So year one, we had Jesse [Armstrong] nominated for his individual writing award, and we were all there, but “Game of Thrones” won. Last year, we also won, but the awards were remote. I would have been able to go up on stage, but I wouldn’t have received the physical Emmy. I was really excited to be able to be a part of it this year, to be there for that really amazing moment. 

WSN: How did you first get involved with “Succession?”

Stanton: I’ve always been a playwright and I had been looking for work in television and film for a while. I’m from Hawaii, and I would often on the way to and from going home, I would stop off in L.A.and do the water bottle circuit, and have meetings. I met with a wonderful producer at HBO named Christine Kim, who is also from Hawaii, actually. She had me in mind for a show for HBO. She wasn’t a part of “Succession” but she linked me with some of those producers. They were looking for somebody who could write comedy and drama and I think my sample, which was a play, reflected that. It was also a help that a lot of the writers are from the United Kingdom. — there’s a lot of British political comedy writers who work together on a number of other shows. So they were also open for American writers, especially ones that knew New York. I was lucky enough to interview with Jesse, who’s the showrunner, and I got to be part of the team in season one. I interviewed and then two weeks later, I moved to London.

WSN: What’s the process of creating a show like “Succession?”

Stanton: The first part is the writers’ room, and it’s relatively long — at least 20 weeks and some years are longer than others. The writers will gather together, thinking of what we’re going to cover, building up characters and figuring out the stories we want to tell. Then you start to decide who’s going to write which episode, whether it’s two writers or a single writer, and we start to focus in on those episodes. Then there’s pre-production — which always feels way too short — where we’re just gearing up for everything, and then we start shooting. We’ll shoot for maybe seven months, and then there’s the editing and post production and then it gets released. Then we have a very short break and go back in for the next season. 

WSN: How do you feel like your time at NYU helped you prepare for the entertainment world?

Stanton: Going to NYU is why I moved to New York. I don’t think I would have gotten this job if I hadn’t. I was in dramatic writing which trained you in theater, which was my focus at the time, but also film and TV writing. It was the first time I traveled for my work — I was from a small town in Hawaii, and I moved to New York for NYU. It was a combination of what I learned from my courses, my classmates and then also the experience of living in the city. Growing up in a certain world, I didn’t know different kinds of rich kids or the different sort of characters that you see in the show. You get exposed to more things going there. It’s also not just what I learned, but it’s some of the friendships I’ve made with classmates. You see their struggles, the highs and lows. It’s really encouraging to be part of that community at NYU with fellow storytellers.

Contact Bryn Borzillo at [email protected]