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Viola Davis sat down on The Ellen Degeneres Show on Thursday for her first interview since her historic win at Sunday’s Emmy Awards, and Davis gave DeGeneres the inside scoop on her remarkable acceptance speech, being “subversive in Hollywood” and enjoying Oprah’s epic congratulatory gifts.
“Still carrying it around with you, huh?” DeGeneres kicked off the interview, nodding at the Emmy on the coffee table.
“Yeah,” replied Davis. “I slept with it last night.”
DeGeneres then got serious, acknowledging Davis’ “perfect” and “brilliant” acceptance speech. “Did you prepare for that?” she asked the How to Get Away With Murder Star.
“Well, sort of because I did want to mark the fact that it was the first African-American to win in the lead actress category,” replied Davis. “So I love that Harriet Tubman quote. I thought it was so progressive.”
But Davis said that her husband wasn’t so confident about her choice of words when she began her speech. “My husband said afterwards, ‘V, I didn’t know where you were going with that. I really didn’t. When you were saying ‘those white women with their arms stretched out over the line,’ I was like, What is she doing?’ “
“I was too for a minute,” Ellen nodded in agreement. “I thought maybe you were drunk. Did you drink before the show?”
“I did,” Davis replied to big laughs, revealing she’d gulped down some prosecco while she was getting ready.
“No, but really,” Ellen said. “I can’t tell you enough, that speech was beautiful, and it’s ridiculous that you had to even make a speech like that, but anyway … I think that what was important was that you said, ‘Unless there are roles created for you, you can’t be nominated.’ “
DeGeneres asked Davis if she knew that the entire crowd was giving her a standing ovation as she walked off the stage.
“I did not,” said Davis. “I felt a great wall of silence and I think that’s because I saw the McDonalds French fries back stage, and I was trying to get those McDonald’s French fries, and you know — I ate them like I hadn’t eaten in five years. You’re subversive if you eat French fries in Hollywood.”
“Yeah, well, when you’re drunk, you do things like that,” Ellen deadpanned.
And of course the celebration was just beginning with the backstage fries. Davis went on to describe the joy of being the recipient of congratulatory gifts from Oprah, as she revealed a picture of the enormous bouquet Oprah sent Davis in celebration of her win.
“Oprah does everything big,” said Davis. “And I love it. I love being on the receiving end of all of her big gifts. She also sent Jay Z‘s champagne to me. And you know, I always look it up online to see how much it costs. That’s real tacky of me, I know.”
Finally, DeGeneres said that in reading interviews with Davis, she’s noticed something about the actress, saying. “You have an obsession with —”
“My Jacuzzi,” Davis said without missing a beat.
“Yes, I mean it almost seems unhealthy,” the host said with concern. “You seem to be in it a lot.”
“I love my Jacuzzi, Ellen. If it came down to my husband and my Jacuzzi, I’d have to think about it.”
Not to be outdone by Oprah, DeGeneres then presented Davis with her own congratulatory gift that brought it all together — a floating Prosecco and Emmy holder — because a girl shouldn’t have to choose between time with her Emmy or time in the hot tub.
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