Watch The Most Powerful Acceptance Speech At The Emmys (VIDEO)
Viola Davis was a star at the Emmy Awards Sunday night. Her prize for Best Actress In A Drama — “How To Get Away With Murder” — was a first for a black woman. However, her powerful acceptance speech was a winner in its own right. In it, Davis proved she has done her homework for her next role, playing Harriet Tubman. She quoted Tubman with these words:
“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 is there, across what was once an impenetrable line. She didn’t hesitate to take the industry to task for the fact that this historical first has taken so long and that there aren’t more women of color joining her.
The acceptance speech defined the dilemma of black actresses
Viola Davis is a veteran with a long resumé in film and television. She sharply defined the dilemma that she has shared with other black actresses, but her statement could easily be applied to our broader society:
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.
An expression of gratitude for those who created opportunity immediately followed:
“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. To the Taraji P. Hensons, the Kerry Washington’s, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union …Thank you for taking us over that line.”
The TV star’s recognition of her fellow thespians brought an outpouring of support. Taraji P. Henson, who was nominated in the same category for her role in ‘Empire’, gave Davis a hug and a prolonged one-person standing ovation as Davis made her way onto the stage.
gratitude and pain were reflected in the response
An Instagram post by Meagan Good expressed both the pent-up gratitude and the pain of the struggle that she and other women share with Davis. Good wrote:
“This moment ..I couldn’t even speak .. It took my breath away… Nothing has ever been given to me… With Gods grace, I’ve fought for every opportunity… Worked hard for everything.
“I’ve been rejected or not even considered many times over, simply because of the colour of my skin. I made it my mission to never be bitter… Only better. To take great pride and joy in my struggle and to trust God above anyone thought to be in charge of my destiny. Today I smile. I smile sooo big with tears in my eyes.”
That doors are opening in television is reflected in the fact that Good has a lead role in the TV version of “Minority Report,” airing on Monday, September 21st. And while Best Supporting Actress Emmys for black women are not entirely new, Uzo Aduba, who won one last year, won in that category for her role in “Orange Is The New Black.”
Aduba, too, expressed her gratitude by quoting another famous black woman. In an interview, she said:
“When I think of African-American contributions in television, I think of the people who came before me. I think it would be easy to rest inside our moment. But there’s a poem Maya Angelou read at Clinton’s inauguration. She said, ‘Each of you, descendent of some passed on traveler, has been paid for’.”
It took the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences — the organization which presents the Emmys — almost 70 years to get to this point. But now that it has arrived, a floodgate of talent has been opened.
Watch the power of Viola Davis’ acceptance speech here:
Featured photo, screenshot from YouTube video.
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