Viola Davis Becomes 1st Black Woman to Win Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama

By Yesha Callahan,

It was Viola Davis’ night and the rest of the nominees in the Emmy category for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series were along for the ride. Davis, who was joined by Taraji P. Henson in the same category, won for her role on How to Get Away With Murder.

During Davis’ emotional acceptance speech, her words particularly resonated with every black actress in Hollywood. Davis opened her speech regarding her history-making win as the first black woman to be awarded in the category with the words of Harriet Tubman:

“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.”

“The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity,” Davis added during her speech. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”viola_davis

Davis then gave shout-outs to other black actresses, including Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union and Kerry Washington…

During a moment at the beginning of the show, host Andy Samberg joked about the lack of diversity among the award’s nominees that is usually the case, but this year was different.

“This is the most diverse group of nominees in Emmy history, so congratulations, Hollywood, you did it!” Samberg announced to the crowd. “Yeah. Racism is over! Don’t fact-check that.”…

And Samberg is right. Don’t fact-check his statement. Davis’ win is monumental for those black women in Hollywood out there trying to make it and get recognized. It’s also monumental because Davis commanded the stage with a powerful speech that proved there are difficulties in Hollywood when you’re a black woman. But just because black women have made strides, it doesn’t mean they should stop striving for more.

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