Emmys: Viola Davis Discusses Emmy Routine, Paving Way for Black Actresses

Rich Fury/Invision/AP
Viola Davis attends Women's Making History Awards on Saturday at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles

The actress was honored alongside executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and songwriter Diane Warren at the annual pre-emmy Women Making History Awards.

Viola Davis may end up making Emmy history on Sunday night, but the How to Get Away With Murder star isn’t letting the nomination consume her weekend.

“I’m feeling very mellow. It’s a regular morning,” Davis told a reporter on the red carpet on Saturday about how she will spend her day prepping for the Emmys. “I can’t go through life thinking that I’m an award-winning actress … whether I win the Emmy or not.”

Davis was honored along with Fear the Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and songwriter extraordinaire Diane Warren on Saturday morning at the annual Women Making History Awards at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles. Proceeds from the benefit go toward the establishment of the National Women’s History Museum, which would be the first of its kind and go hand in hand with honoring the accomplished female Hollywood industry icons of the past and present.

“Women have woven the very fabric of our nation,” said National Women’s History Museum president and CEO Joan Bradley Wages. “It’s beyond time for women to be recognized.”

Actress Kim Dickens presented to her Walking Dead boss Hurd, while singer Leona Lewis presented to Warren. Actress Maria Bello presented the final honor to Davis, who told the audience that she hopes her Emmy nomination will help create more opportunities for African-Americans in Hollywood.  

“I feel that come tomorrow, win or lose, I hope that this wave of seeing Taraji P. Henson, Halle Berry, Nicole Beharie, Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union and the nameless, faceless actresses out there … that the only thing that has ever separated us in this world in this business is opportunity. That’s it.”

Davis said that in a profession that she says has been about “looks and youth” for women, her advice to young women is not to let the pressures of beauty go to their head. 

“Don’t be what you look like," Davis told The Hollywood Reporter. "It’s a big, big deal. It’s like women just want to be pretty nowadays. They want to look like Kim Kardashian, and then it doesn’t serve them when they get older, and then they are stuck with Botox treatments and everything else. That leads me into just understanding that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, of finding and living a life of significance.“

When Hurd received her award, she spoke about how she was proud that she can "blow things up with the rest of the guys" both in film and television. Warren, who has recently been in the studio whipping up new songs with Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Lewis and Lady Gaga, spoke of how floored she's been by her recent anthem for women sung by Gaga, titled "Till It Happens to You." The song was released as part of a Catherine Hardwicke-directed PSA to raise awareness of campus sexual assault that garnered 3 million views on the day of its release.

“It was a long road to get this song out," Warren told THR. "I knew it would do this. What’s great is that’s not just a message for rape victims. Women can relate to this song no matter what they are going through.”