Viola Davis Makes History as First Black Woman to Win Lead Actress Emmy

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History was made on September 20th during the 67th annual Emmy Awards when Viola Davis became the first black woman to take home the Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy. Davis was awarded this Emmy for her role as Professor Annalise Keating on the popular drama series How to Get Away with Murder.

Davis was immediately hugged by Taraji P. Henson on her way to the stage, whom she later thanked, along with other actresses of color such as Kerry Washington and Halle Berry for “taking us over that line.”

Viola Davis opened her acceptance speech by quoting Harriet Tubman: “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.”

“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,” said an emotional Davis. The cameras cut to Taraji P. Henson giving Davis a standing ovation, as well as a crying Kerry Washington amongst the applauding audience.

Along with Viola Davis, other women of color contributed to the historical night by dominating the Emmy wins. Uzo Aduba won Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role in Orange is the New Black. Regina King won Outstanding Support Actress in a Limited Series for her role in American Crime.

We applaud all of the winners for this year’s Emmy Awards, and thank Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba, and Regina King for their genius and talented work.

Watch Viola Davis’s full Emmy Speech below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: AMY VAUGHN9d54e19e059511e2a62d1231380fd04a_7

As a Montclair State University graduate with a BA in English, my first love is writing, specifically nonfiction and short stories. International human rights and women’s rights are also strong passions of mine. I hope to someday be able to call myself Chief Editor, human rights advocate, and jewelry designer. I can’t live without Mad Men (er, Netflix), soy chai lattes, or my adorable Wheaten terrier, Pippin. 

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