Viola Davis made history by becoming the first African-American to win the leading actress in a drama category at Emmy for her role of a defense lawyer in “How to Get Away with Murder” and hoped that her award will help create more opportunities for people of colour.
In an impassioned speech, 50-year-old Davis quoted humanitarian Harriet Tubman and paid tribute to other African-American actresses, like Halle Berry, Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union.
“Let me tell you something. The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” said Davis as an emotional Washington and Taraji P Henson looked on from the audience.
Davis has already won a SAG Award for her performance as a tough, damaged lawyer and law school professor Annalise Keating on the Shonda Rhimes series created show, besides being nominated for a Golden Globe.
The Oscar nominated actress, who looked overwhelmed when her name was announced, took the opportunity to make a statement about racial inequality in Hollywood and to thank the people, who helped get her into a leading role.
“So, here’s to all the writers, the awesome people — people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black,” she said.
Davis’ speech was a highlight, and drew a standing ovation from fellow nominee and “Empire” star Henson.
Speaking backstage about her historic win, “The Help” star said she knows there are great strides to be taken when it comes to diversity in Hollywood.
“My story doesn’t end here. I just think that there is so much work that needs to be done in some many areas in the business with actors of colour.”