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
RED CARPET RECAP: 2015 Emmy Awards
1. Taraji P. Henson in a black custom Alexander Wang gown with a peekaboo cutoutSource:Getty 1 of 33
2. Bernice Gordon, Taraji P. Henson, Patsy Ballard, and Marcel HensonSource:Getty 2 of 33
3. Tracee Ellis Ross in a Zac Posen gownSource:Getty 3 of 33
4. Kerry Washington in a mesh Marc Jacobs dressSource:Getty 4 of 33
5. Lady Gaga is wearing a one-shoulder black Brandon Maxwell gownSource:Getty 5 of 33
6. Julianne HoughSource:Getty 6 of 33
7. Viola Davis and Julius TennonSource:Getty 7 of 33
8. Mindy KalingSource:Getty 8 of 33
9. Sofia Vergara and Joe ManganielloSource:Getty 9 of 33
10. Emma RobertsSource:Getty 10 of 33
11. Laverne CoxSource:Getty 11 of 33
12. David Oyelowo and Jessica OyelowoSource:Getty 12 of 33
13. Claire DanesSource:Getty 13 of 33
14. Danielle BrooksSource:Getty 14 of 33
15. Padma LakshmiSource:Getty 15 of 33
16. Gina RodriguezSource:Getty 16 of 33
17. June AmbroseSource:Getty 17 of 33
18. Uzo AdubaSource:Getty 18 of 33
19. Aubrey Anderson-EmmonsSource:Getty 19 of 33
20. Niecy Nash and Jay TuckerSource:Getty 20 of 33
21. Ariel WinterSource:Getty 21 of 33
22. Andy Samberg and Joanna NewsomSource:Getty 22 of 33
23. Heidi KlumSource:Getty 23 of 33
24. Laura PreponSource:Getty 24 of 33
25. Sarah HylandSource:Getty 25 of 33
26. Dascha PolancoSource:Getty 26 of 33
27. Aubrey PlazaSource:Getty 27 of 33
28. Porsha WilliamsSource:Getty 28 of 33
29. Giuliana RancicSource:Getty 29 of 33
30. Trevor NoahSource:Getty 30 of 33
31. Christina HendricksSource:Getty 31 of 33
32. Nathan Anderson and actor Anthony AndersonSource:Getty 32 of 33
33. Amy PoehlerSource:Getty 33 of 33