If you don’t know by now, Viola Davis’ career is officially lit. The How to Get Away with Murder star who became the first Black actress in history to win an Emmy for a leading role last month is all about inspiring others.
Davis spoke with the New York Times via telephone recently, about her Emmy win, using a Harriet Tubman quote in her acceptance speech and Hollywood’s diversity issue. She also addresses the soap opera actress who got destroyed on social media for small-minded tweets.
Here are a few excerpts:
On Reactions To Her Emmy Win
“I feel like I’ve gotten a really huge response that kind of surpassed the award. Just people admiring my speech makes me feel really good. I remember Meryl Streep told me once, “You know, Viola, these young girls are always listening to us — every word we say is hitting them in a way that you can’t even imagine.” And that’s what I’ve found to be very true.”
On The Harriet Tubman Quote
“My husband and I are doing a Harriet Tubman project, and when it was picked up by HBO, one of the producers sent me that quote. It struck me in such a huge way because of its progressiveness, so it stayed with me ever since, and that’s been several months. I just felt it was apropos, seeing that no woman of color has ever won in that category. That moment had to be acknowledged, or else it would be a missed opportunity. It would be one of those moments I would look back on, and I would have regretted it.”
On Receiving Backlash For The Win
“If there has been any backlash, it’s that all people want to feel included in a speech. I know there has been some backlash with an actress who didn’t feel she was included…I don’t know that I want to say more about that.”
On Hollywood’s Lack Of Diversity
“I was reading Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique last week for some reason, and she spoke a lot about women’s plights in the 1950s. Women who were hiding behind the mask of well-waxed floors and beautiful applied lipstick and suffered in silence. And I don’t think that’s happening anymore. Women are bold! And now that I’m producing, I’m seeing what’s happening behind the scenes with people like Alfre Woodard, with people like Sanaa Lathan, with Taraji P. Henson, with Kerry Washington. These are all women who are producing their own material. They know their beauty, they know their talent. The women I know don’t accept the statistics anymore. They don’t accept the numbers as cementing their future.”
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