Watch Viola Davis’ Historic Emmys Acceptance Speech and See Celebrity Twitter Reactions

September 21, 2015

Viola Davis delivered an emotionally powerful acceptance speech for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series which you can see right here. She is the first African-American ever to receive the award and many celebrities took to Twitter to pay tribute to her and her television history-making moment.

Viola Davis

Yes, it’s been a long time coming and it’s to believe that we’re already halfway through the second decade of the 21st century before, at long last, an African-American woman has received the honor for the Shonda Rhimes’ series ‘How to Get Away with Murder.’

Viola Davis had already won much critical acclaim for her leading role in the show. And, too, we can’t overlook that her casting in that role also awakened old stereotypes that even a writer in the New York Times chose to voice, as she said of Davis that she was “less classically beautiful” than the likes of, say Halle Berry. Yes, this after insulting creator Rhimes by calling her an “angry black woman.” And this led to the Times’ public editor to respond to the immense backlash.

But that was many months ago and, as Frank Sinatra famously said, the best revenge is massive success.

Viola Davis was stunning in a white floor-length gown speckled with jewels as she began her powerful, and unswerving in stating the truth about Hollywood and the entertainment industry. She began, saying, “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 nohow. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s.”

Yes, indeed, reminding us that while change has come, it’s been, to quote song lyrics “a long time coming.”

Davis went on to speak with candor on this theme as she said, “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.”

And, remarking on the revolution in television that is slowly but slowly emerging, she added, “So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”

Viola Davis also paid tribute to those who have paved the way in their trailblazing roles, and said, “And to the Taraji P. Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharhies, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union, thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you to the Television Academy.”

A beautiful and timely speech and it’s gone viral, and many have reacted in social media. You can see Viola Davis’ Emmy Awards acceptance speech video, along with a roundup of celebrity reactions on Twitter below.

Our #Emmys winner for Lead Actress, Drama Series: @ViolaDavis, @HowToGetAwayWithMurder, @ABCnetwork

A photo posted by Television Academy (@televisionacad) on

Congrats @ViolaDavis @shondarhimes #HTGAWM #Emmys2015 !!

— Sean Diddy Combs (@iamdiddy) September 21, 2015

Pictures: PR Photos

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