Viola Davis Makes History As First Black Woman to Win Best Lead Actress at 2015 Emmys
Viola Davis made history at the 2015 Emmy Awardson Sunday.
The 50-year-old actress-producer won Best Lead Actress in a Drama for her role in How to Get Away With Murder, making her the first African-American woman to ever win an award in that category.
"Let me tell you something," Davis said, "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."
She thanked writers and showrunners like Peter Nowalk and Shonda Rhimes for being "people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black."
Davis went on to mention Empire's Taraji P. Henson, who stayed standing and clapping throughout Davis' speech, and Scandal's Kerry Washington, who visibly teared up at the stirring words, and thanked them along with fellow actresses Halle Berry, Nicole Beharie, Meagan Good and Garbielle Union for "taking us over that line."
The Suicide Squad actress starting off her speech with a Harriet Tubman quote that referenced the line the civil rights activist had been held back by in the 1800s. "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 recited.
This was the first win and nomination for the Julliard-trained actress, who ended her speech by thanking the Television Academy for the award.
In becoming the first black woman to win in the leading actress category, Davis beat this year's fellow nominees Henson, Claire Danes (Homeland), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Robin Wright (House of Cards).
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