Last night Viola Davis made history as the first black woman in the Emmy’s 67-year history to win Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her role as Annalise Keating in How to Get Away With Murder. The Juilliard-trained actress used her moment to honor black women who came before her, quoting Harriet Tubman and shouting out industry veterans including Taraji P. Henson (who was also up for the Drama Emmy) and Kerry Washington.
“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.” That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: 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. So, here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes. People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black. And to the Taraji P. Hensons and Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goodes, to Gabrielle Union. Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you for the Television Academy. Thank you.
The brief, beautiful speech set the internet on fire as black celebrities expressed pride in Davis’ accomplishment. Check out a video of the speech and Taraji P Henson’s incredible reaction below.
Taraji P Henson’s reaction:
— FOX (@FOXTV) September 21, 2015
Kerry Washington’s reaction:
— Television Academy (@TelevisionAcad) September 21, 2015
Celebrities’ social media reactions:
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
— Nikki Beharie (@NikkiBeharie) September 21, 2015
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) September 21, 2015
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) September 21, 2015
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) September 21, 2015