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Why We Can’t Stop Talking About Viola Davis’ Emmy Win
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Viola Davis wins a 2015 Emmy for her role in “How to Get Away with Murder” (courtesy of EW)

Summary: Viola Davis won an Emmy on Sunday for playing law professor Annalise Keating on ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder.” She became the first African-American woman to win the outstanding lead actress award, and her stirring acceptance speech challenged Hollywood to change.

On Sunday, Viola Davis became the first African-American to win the outstanding lead actress Emmy for her role as law professor Annalise Keating on ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder.” During her acceptance speech, she brought fellow actress Kerry Washington to tears and got a standing ovation from the crowd for her moving speech about women of color and opportunities in the entertainment industry.

  
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She began her speech by quoting Harriet Tubman.

“In my mind, I see a line,” Viola said. “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 continued by pointing out a powerful truth that not only stirred the crowd but went viral online.

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“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” she said. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

She finished by thanking those in the industry like Taraji P. Henson, Peter Norwalk, and Shonda Rhimes who are redefining representations of people of color. Her rousing speech was a reminder to Hollywood at the importance of diversity not only in front of the camera but behind the scenes.



However, although her speech moved many, there are still those who take the Matt Damon route when it comes to racial issues in Hollywood. The actor was under fire recently for interrupting esteemed producer Effie Brown, who is African-American, to school her on diversity.

General Hospital actress Nancy Lee Grahn took to Twitter to #DamonSplain to Viola about her speech. Apparently Nancy was not satisfied just watching the Emmy’s from home. Maybe she wanted her own award—Bitter Hater of the World.

In a tweet that has since been deleted, Nancy wrote, “Im a f—ing actress for 40 yrs. None of us get respect or opportunity we deserve. Emmys not venue 4 racial opportunity. ALL women belittled.”

Nancy has since apologized, but she did a great job of proving Viola’s point—there’s a line between those who exist with white privilege and people of color, and it’s a line that you have to work to cross.



 

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