Viola Davis made history on Sunday night as the first African-American woman to receive an Emmy Award for Best Leading Actress in a Drama series.
Davis, who hugged Best Leading Actress nominee Taraji P. Henson on the way to the stage, stood with such grace and dignity as she accepted the award for her role as Annalise Keating on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder. “In my mind, there’s 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. That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s.”
Davis continued, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You can not receive an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
The star, who has always been outspoken about her struggle as an African-American actress in the entertainment industry, went on to thank her writers and HTGAWM creator, Shonda Rhimes, for helping to redefine “what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be Black.”
The 50-year-old added, “And to the Taraji P. Henson’s, the Kerry Washington’s, the Halle Berry’s, the Nicole Beharie’s, the Meagan Good’s, to Gabrielle Union, thank you for taking us over that line.”
Following the beauty’s acceptance speech, the entire room flooded with applause and a standing ovation. This is the first Emmy win and nomination for the actress.