Viola Davis made history Sunday night as the first Black woman to win an Emmy for outstanding actress in a drama series, bringing a sisterhood of Black actresses to their feet at the announcement of her accomplishment.
But Davis’ win was the second history-making moment of her night — as Vanity Fair points out, the nomination of lead actress, alongside Taraji P. Henson’s nomination, was the first time multiple women of color have been considered for the award at the same time.
The significance of the moment was not lost on Henson, who stood to embrace Davis as she made her way to the stage.
In a powerful speech that amplified the voices of Black women who have called for more representation in TV, media and film, Davis noted that roles for Black women are scarce in a whitewashed Hollywood.
“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,” she said.
A quote from Harriet Tubman, which she recited at the top of her acceptance speech, served as a succinct but profound outline of what many Black actresses are facing in the world of film, even in 2015.
“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.”
You can watch her speech here:
But Davis’ win was not the first exceptional moment for Black women at the 2015 Emmy Awards. Orange Is The New Black star Uzo Aduba also made her own history when she accepted the Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series, making her the first actress to win both a drama and a comedy award for the same role.
Hollywood veteran and favorite Regina King also took home an award for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie. It was King’s first nomination and win.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty