The announcement earlier this week that John Legend has achieved EGOT status—that is, the entertainment industry’s Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony quadruple crown—affirmed him as a man for all stages. The past decade and a half since Legend broke into mainstream popular music with 2004’s piano solo “Ordinary People” has been marked with successes for the nimble entertainer. On top of his 10 Grammys, including Best New Artist in 2005, Legend picked up a 2015 Academy Award for his duet with the rapper Common, “Glory,” the uplifting denouement of the civil-rights-movement film Selma, and a 2017 Tony for co-producing Jitney, a revival of a 1982 August Wilson stage play. On Monday, he completed the entertainment industry superfecta, winning a Creative Arts Emmy alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice for producing April’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert telecast, in which Legend also played the titular role. Alongside Webber and Rice, themselves newly minted EGOT completists, Legend joins Audrey Hepburn, Rita Moreno, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks, and other luminaries on the 15-headed Mount Rushmore of American entertainment.
Virtually every major news outlet trumpeted the announcement. Social media was abuzz thanks in no small part to Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen, who posted an Instagram video from the couple’s living room that has since garnered more than 5 million views. It shows Legend standing, still in his tuxedo from the night’s ceremony, reflecting on a menagerie of gleaming golden statuettes. He places the Emmy on the top shelf before pausing, as Teigen whispers, “Perfect.” Questlove chimed in on Twitter, citing the rapper Phonte of Little Brother and refashioning the accomplishment to address its historical importance. “I’m following @phontigallo’s lead and rechristening this as a GETO,” he quipped. The joke’s poignancy was hard to miss at a moment in which the embattled entertainment industry has faced accusations of race- and gender-based discrimination around awards such as the Grammys and who wins them. Legend is the only black man to have ever reached EGOT status, and only the second black person, after Whoopi Goldberg completed her EGOT in 2002. This is, as Legend said in his own Instagram post, “rarefied air.”