Ryan Murphy’s career reveals how far Hollywood has come – and how far there is to go

Illustration+by+Allie+Hall

Illustration by Allie Hall

Jennifer Sadler, Reporter

Famed writer, director and producer Ryan Murphy was granted the Carol Burnett Award at the 80th Golden Globes on Jan. 10.

The award, which was created and first given at the 78th Golden Globes, was created in order to “honor excellence in television” both on-screen and off. As Murphy’s acceptance speech touched the lives of many and his work continues to inspire, the legacy of his career is important to reflect upon.

Murphy, best known for creating series like “Glee” as well as the “American Horror Story” and the “American Crime Story” anthologies, began his career in journalism. His foray into film began in the late 1990s when his script for “Why Can’t I Be Audrey Hepburn?” was purchased by legendary director and producer Steven Spielberg.

He kicked off his own career when he wrote and directed “Nip/Tuck,” for which he earned his first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.

Murphy gained the most notoriety for the hit comedy/musical series “Glee,” which earned him his first Emmy award for directing. Following the success of “Glee,” Murphy would go on to direct the “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story” anthologies, which also gained cult-like followings and skyrocketed his career to new heights.

Though these are all great accomplishments, Murphy’s acceptance speech at the Globes highlighted the underlying issues he has both faced and overcome during the course of his career.

Murphy began his speech by giving backstories of several LGBTQ figures he has worked with and become familiar with during his time in the industry.

The director highlighted names like Billy Porter and Niecy Nash as well as some lesser-known figures like MJ Rodriguez, the first transgender woman to win a Golden Globe for Murphy’s series “Pose” in 2022, in his speech. These individuals all overcame significant struggles with their career, family, background and sense of self due to their gender identity or sexuality.

My mission was to take the invisible, the unloved, and make them the heroes I longed to see but never did in pop culture,”

— Ryan Murphy

Murphy can relate. He was born in 1965 to a Catholic family in Indiana and struggled with his own sexuality. He found LGBTQ representation in film and media to be sparse, which led to struggles throughout his childhood and career.

“When I was a young person at home in the 70s watching ‘The Carol Burnett Show,’ I never, ever saw a person like me getting an award or even being a character on a TV show,” Murphy said in his acceptance speech.

Since then, LGBTQ representation has become somewhat of a norm in many media productions. The members of this community can now express themselves through characters in shows and movies as well as create better examples of what true representation can look like in the arts.

Though much has changed since Murphy’s childhood in the 1970s, there is still a lot of work to be done. However, he has looked on the bright side and worked his hardest to make LGBTQ children today feel loved and represented in their favorite TV series and films.

“My mission was to take the invisible, the unloved, and make them the heroes I longed to see but never did in pop culture,” Murphy said of his inclusive content.

Throughout his career so far, Murphy has made this possible. He offers his own story and the story of his friends and colleagues as a sort of “North Star” to all kids struggling with their own identities and situations.

Because of this, Murphy is able to inspire so many and continue the work that is most important in the entertainment industry: telling the stories that matter.