The star of How to Get Away with Murder also delivered a very powerful acceptance speech, which sent goosebumps up and down the arms of anyone who witnessed it.
Davis began her 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.”
And paid homage to several other black actresses in her speech as well, mentioning Henson, Kerry Washington and Meagan Good as well as How to Get Away with Murder executive producer Shonda Rhimes.
It was this quote that reverberated throughout the airwaves:
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” she said during her acceptance speech. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
In case you missed it, watch video + read transcript of Viola Davis’ black history moment below:
VIDEO: Viola Davis Accepts Her Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama
“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.
Davis beat out Taraji P. Henson, Claire Danes, Tatiana Maslany, Elisabeth Moss and Robin Wright for the award. Despite strong competition from Henson on Empire and Mad Men star Moss, Davis was a frontrunner for the award thanks to her raw, complex portrayal of genius lawyer Annalise Keating.