Viola Davis made history on Sunday night as the first Black woman ever to win the Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series award for her role on How To Get Away With Murder, and her accompanying acceptance speech was just as amazing as the accomplishment itself.
Taking to the stage in a beautifully tailored mermaid-style gown, Viola first paid tribute to iconic abolitionist Harriet Tubman before later praising her fellow actresses of color including Sanaa Lathan, Halle Berry, Gabrielle Union, Regina King, Meagan Good and Taraji Henson (who was also up for the Best Lead Actress award), to name a few.
Take a look at Viola’s moving and inspiring acceptance speech in full below.
She also expanded on her speech backstage. From Entertainment Weekly:
“I didn’t know everyone wanted me to win it so badly,” she said backstage. “But I keep saying the same quote over and over, because it hit me so hard, is that stories never end. My story doesn’t end here. Yeah, it feels fantastic, but my husband and I started a production company … I just think that there is so much work that needs to be done in so many areas in the business with actors of color. So many narratives that need to be seen by people, so many stories that need to be seen and felt, that I know that it doesn’t end here.”
“One of the things that I admire about Shondaland is Annalise Keating was not written specifically for a black woman. I made her black because I’m black. But what needs to happen in the writing is when you put pen to paper, you’ve got to let your imagination fly.”
“When you go to acting school and study Chekhov and Shakespeare and Arthur Miller and August Wilson, you just think that the sky is the limit in terms of how you can portray a human being,” she continued. “It’s only until you get out there in your profession that people say you can only be a judge, you’re not cute enough to be a leading lady, you can only be a doctor, you can only be authoritative, you can only be what we define as black. I don’t know what that means.”
Not only is this another win on the books for Viola, but it’s also yet another monumental achievement for female African-American producer & director extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes, who is the mastermind behind the HTGAWM series.
In addition to Viola’s historic win, Orange Is The New Black star Uzo Aduba also took home a Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for the second year in a row, while Regina King won her first-ever Emmy for her role in American Crime.
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