Emmys: Viola Davis Becomes First Black Lead Actress Winner
The actress won her first Emmy for her role in 'How to Get Away With Murder.'
Viola Davis took home the Emmy for lead actress in a drama series for her performance as criminal law professor Annalise Keating in How to Get Away With Murder at Sunday night's ceremony, making her the first black actress to win the award. The honor marks Davis' first Emmy nomination and win.
Davis began her speech quoting words once spoken by 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," she said.
An emotional Davis expressed that writers have the power to create roles for actresses of color in Hollywood. She praised her How to Get Away With Murder showrunner Pete Nowalk and Shonda Rhimes for creating such opportunities in their shows.
"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," added Davis. "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. Here's to all the writers. The awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Pete Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes. People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black."
Davis ended her powerful speech by dedicating her award to A-list black actresses including Kerry Washington, Halle Berry, Meagan Good. Taraji P. Henson and Gabrielle Union. Davis' words touched the crowd, leaving Washington in tears.
"Thank you for taking us over that line," said Davis.
Famous women including Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes and Octavia Spencer celebrated Davis' historic win on social media. See the posts below.
VIOLA omg HISTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so excited for you baby!!!!— octavia spencer (@octaviaspencer) September 21, 2015
I love listening to her speak. #ViolaDavis— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) September 21, 2015
OMG!!! I'm floored... and proud and crying... VIOLA VIOLA VIOLA!!! Thank you for letting us share your shine!!! Man... tears— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) September 21, 2015
@violadavis CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Beautiful work, beautiful speech!!!!— Julianne Moore (@_juliannemoore) September 21, 2015
Before taking the stage, Davis hugged Henson who was also nominated for the lead actress Emmy for her role in Empire. This year was the first time two black actresses were nominated in the category. Other nominees were Claire Danes (Homeland), Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Robin Wright (House of Cards)
The 67th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Andy Samberg, took place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday.