Viola Davis Makes History at Emmys as First African-American Woman to Win Best Actress In a Drama Series

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Viola Davis’s win is the first for an African-American actress in the drama category. In 1966, Bill Cosby was the first African-American actor to win an acting award in any category — an honor he won for three years in a row in the drama category for his role on “I Spy.” Isabel Sanford was the first African-American actress to win the Emmy for best actress in a comedy series, in 1981, for her role in “The Jeffersons.” And the first African-American actor to win best actor in a comedy series was Robert Guillaume in 1985, for his work on “Benson.”

Viola Davis’s Emotional Emmys Acceptance Speech

Viola Davis, after becoming the first African-American to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama, gave an acceptance speech that placed her award within the larger context of diversity in Hollywood.

‘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.

SOURCE: N.Y. Times

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