Viola Davis Makes Emmy History; Snagging Title for First Black Outstanding Actress
It was a historical and important moment for Black women at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Finally! The first black woman to win the Emmy's top acting award - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Viola Davis snatched the title for her leading role in ABC's TV show, How To Get Away With Murder. Accepting her award, Davis gave an emotional speech, appreciating and acknowledging fellow Black actresses for keeping the struggle alive in a white dominated industry saying: "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is simply opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there"
Yes OPPORTUNITY is very important if we want to create great and divergent talent that cuts across race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation as opposed to locking out a group of individuals saying its not their role to play.
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She also cited words from Harriet Tubman in her acceptance speech:
"In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers, and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no-how. I can’t seem to get over that line."
Davis’ stirring speech got a standing ovation; leaving Kerry Washington and other black actresses in tears.
This seemed to have been a night for Black actresses because besides Davis, Regina King, and Uzo Aduba also took home statuettes for their outstanding performances on TV. After a whole 3 decades of acting, Regina King finally won her first Emmy for her role on American Crime.
Aduba won Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Orange is the New Black and in her speech, she also talked about 'opportunity' in a different way saying: "Thank you for making this show, for creating this space, for creating a platform."
Davis is an inspiration to other Black women and her speech hit home: Overcome barriers in the industry. Create opportunities for all. Increase diversity and give people from all walks of life the opportunity to shine.
"So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people — people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black," Davis concluded.
Congrats to her and to all black actresses who still believe in themselves enough to keep on. Here is the full acceptance speech:
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