The most heartwarming moment of the Emmys came at an unusual time: during the award for best directing of a variety series.
Glenn Weiss took home the award for directing the Oscars on ABC. But that’s not what most people will remember, because he quickly dove into deeply personal territory in his speech.
“I’m really grateful to be here. But it’s bittersweet,” he said, tearing up. “The person that would be most proud at this moment would be my mom, and she passed away just two weeks ago. Part of my heart is broken, and I don’t think it will ever be repaired. But she’s in me.”
Weiss added that his mother always suggested that he hold onto sunshine. And that’s when he truly shocked the audience by directly addressing his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen, who was sitting in the audience.
“Jan, you are the sunshine in my life, and Mom was right [when she said], ‘Don’t ever let go of my sunshine,’ ” he said. “You know why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife.”
Svendsen gasped. Her hand shot to her mouth. On the side of the stage, Sterling K. Brown, who had just presented the award, looked similarly shocked, his mouth agape in a perfect O.
Slowly, Svendsen rose, her eyes filled with tears. As she walked up to the stage past shocked celebrities (including a frozen Leslie Jones), Weiss smiled and said, “I didn’t ask yet!”
When she got up there, he told her: “This is the ring that my dad put on my mom’s finger 67 years ago. And to my sisters and brothers, I didn’t swipe it. Dad knows I have it,” he jokingly added.
“Jan, I want to put this ring that my mom wore on your finger in front of all these people and in front of my mom and your parents watching from above,” he said before dropping to one knee.
The audience exploded, as he said the four words that might define the night’s Emmys.
“Will you marry me?”
She said yes, and they shared a passionate kiss.
Then he finished his speech, saying, “Thank you to the Academy!”
Social media was thrilled.
One user called it “the best wedding proposal of all time.” Weiss “just set the bar too high,” another joked.
“The Emmy goes to Glenn Weiss for the Best Reality TV moment of 2018 and Best proposal,” said another.
Hands down one of the best moments tonight was Director, Glenn Weiss proposing to his girlfriend with his mom’s ring. Congratulations on your win for Directing a Variety Special and your engagement! #emmys #glennweiss he’ll be trending for sure! pic.twitter.com/FJFnRjEe51— Danielle (@danielledshortt) September 18, 2018
It appeared that Weiss asked for a few extra minutes for his big proposal. Given how tightly scheduled awards shows are, that might have caused a little consternation backstage — though none has surfaced. Still, the Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon pointed out on Twitter that the “best part of this wedding proposal is that this guy is winning this award for directing an award show and he knows that he is probably throwing the control room into utter and complete chaos right now.”
There was a quick shout out/apology to the director Hamish Hamilton for needing more time 😂😂— Krista LePard (@kclepard) September 18, 2018
Everyone else, though, was thrilled.
Backstage, Weiss spoke to reporters about the proposal. He hadn’t originally planned on popping the question on national television. But then he had an “interesting couple of weeks,” during which his mother died.
“It became a thought . . . the thought picked up steam as we got here,” Weiss explained. “This was coming. The timing just lined up very nicely, and it was a really magical moment.”
Even with the plan in place, he felt nervous.
“Walking around on the carpet like nothing’s happening with this thing sitting in my pocket was very nerve-racking,” he said.