To underline her history-making Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series victory, How to Get Away With Murder’s Viola Davis had a tear-inducing speech at the ready. After opening with a Harriet Tubman quote, the veteran character actress went on to point out the continued scarcity of roles for minority actresses in Hollywood, saying:
“You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
Hopefully her words — along with wins by Uzo Aduba and Regina King — will help change that.
‘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, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union: Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you to the Television Academy. Thank you.