Viola Davis, the First Black Actress to Win Best Actress at the 2015 Emmy Awards
Winning for her incredible performance as a defence lawyer in How To Get Away With Murder, Viola opened her acceptance speech with a quote from 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.”
‘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.’
And after citing Harriet, Viola added her own commentary, telling the emotional audience: ‘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.’ A two-time Oscar nominee, Viola has also previously been nominated for a BAFTA and three Golden Globes.