All Articles Tagged "Viola Davis"

Viola Davis Addresses Nancy Grahn And Reveals What She & Taraji Said To Each Other That Night

October 1st, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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I don’t have to tell you all that Viola Davis is a class act. But that doesn’t mean she’s been deaf and blind to the discussion surrounding her recent and historic Emmy win, particularly her acceptance speech.

We’re talking about Nancy Grahn.

You may remember that Grahn, a soap star on “General Hospital” took issue with Viola’s speech saying to liken herself to Harriet Tubman, “digging thru a tunnel,” was a bit of a stretch. And she also wondered why she didn’t reference the ways in which all women are disenfranchised in Hollywood.

Naturally, it was bullish*t, likely brought on my Grahn’s own feelings of jealousy.

But Viola has heard about it.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Davis addressed Grahn’s criticisms and explained why that Harriet Tubman quote was so necessary.

And she even revealed what she and Taraji said to one another in that memorable embrace before she took the stage.

Why she used that Harriet Tubman quote

My husband and I are doing a Harriet Tubman project, and when it was picked up by HBO, one of the producers sent me that quote. It struck me in such a huge way because of its progressiveness, so it stayed with me ever since, and that’s been several months. I just felt it was apropos, seeing that no woman of color has ever won in that category. That moment had to be acknowledged, or else it would be a missed opportunity. It would be one of those moments I would look back on, and I would have regretted it.

On the Backlash

If there has been any backlash, it’s that all people want to feel included in a speech. I know there has been some backlash with an actress who didn’t feel she was included.

You mean Nancy Grahn?

Yes. I don’t know that I want to say more about that.

Y’all Viola is brilliant. Do you see what she did there? Nancy Grahn was deep up in her feelings because she didn’t feel included which is exactly what Viola’s speech was about in the first place. The same thing you want, we want.

What did you and Taraji say to one another that night?

First of all, that was like the second or third time we hugged through the night. She said, “I love you,” and I said, “I love you more than anything in the world, I love you!” That’s what we said. I think at the end of the day, people want to be seen. And I think that’s why it was important for me and Taraji to acknowledge that in each other, to not just feel like it is competition, to just say, I see you, yes, I see you, too. I love you. I take you in.

The other Black actresses she celebrated that night

Oh, I saw every last one of them! I saw Uzo, I saw Regina, I saw Lorraine Toussant, I saw Niecy Nash, I saw Queen Latifah — I didn’t get to see Mo’Nique or Kerry Washington, who I get to see on the set every once in a while. But I am renewing my vows on Feb. 13, and I hope I will get to see Kerry Washington and Taraji there. Oprah sent me a bouquet. See, these are actresses I get together with every year, in community, in camaraderie, in sisterhood. It’s pointless to be in competition — it’s only adding to the pressure that the business is putting on you.

I appreciate the way she addressed Grahn without making it messy or giving her an opportunity to respond. And I love that she shared what she and Taraji said to one another. But what struck me the most about the interview was that Davis explained how she’s finally learning to embrace the good.

How are you feeling about everything?

I’m feeling good! I’m surprised. I usually go inside my head and start overthinking things whenever something good happens and talk myself out of the joy. But I haven’t done that this time, so I think that’s a sign of maturity.
You can Davis’ full interview here.

You can read her full interview here.

Role Players And Role Models: TV’s Most Influential Black Women

September 28th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

Many think that the Golden Age of Black television is now, and these influential women are making this the best year yet for representation on the small screen. From making Hollywood a better place to giving us serious #sisterhood goals, these ladies are inspiring us onscreen and off.

Viola Davis: ’It’s What The Award Is Going To Mean To Young Brown Girls’

September 25th, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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At the end of the day, as a parent there’s nothing better than knowing that your child knows that all the hard work you do, all the late nights you work, is for them.

Emmy winner and How to Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis has a daughter who get’s it in little Miss Genesis.

Little Genesis “hacked” her mom’s Instagram account to post the most adorable congratulatory message ever.


Hacking mommy's instagram with the help of Team JuVee!!!

A video posted by Viola Davis (@violadavis) on

The caption reads, “Hacking mommy’s instagram with the help of Team JuVee!!!”

In the video, Genesis says: “I love you mommy and I hope you win another Emmy. You’re my favorite girl and I love you.”

Genesis posing with my Emmy Neil Lane jewels. Don't know where she got that pose from. My baby!!!

A photo posted by Viola Davis (@violadavis) on

Davis shared another photo of her daughter rocking her Neil Lane jewels. “Don’t know where she got that pose from. My baby!!!” Davis says on Instagram.

In a cover story for Variety magazine, Davis reveals some post-Emmy feelings and the deeper meaning of her historical win.

“I keep expecting to be that little girl who loses the contest,” Davis told Variety. “It’s a mixture of disbelief and joy and acceptance. It’s just beautiful.”

More than just an Emmy, Davis explains how this award speaks volumes beyond a Hollywood platform.

“What it meant for me to win the Emmy is I found it,” Davis explained. “It’s not just the award. It’s what it’s going to mean to young girls — young brown girls, especially. When they saw a physical manifestation of a dream, I felt like I had fulfilled a purpose.”

Just beautiful indeed.

Did Y’all See? Nancy Grahn, R.L. And K. Michelle Get Messy

September 25th, 2015 - By Raven Carter
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The last full week of September was one of those weeks where celebs should’ve backed away from the Internet. Between Nancy Grahn attempting to discredit Viola Davis’ experience as a Black woman in Hollywood to R.L. being in his feelings over the “Why You Lyin'” parody and K. Michelle cussing out Idris Elba and the mother of his child on Instagram, we can’t help but question not only why are these stars mad, but why are they so messy? Watch this episode of Did Y’all See? above and weigh in with the editors in the comments section.

“Viola Deserved That Award”: Taraji Is Okay With Losing Emmy To Viola Davis

September 22nd, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Splash News

Splash News

One of the many pearls of wisdom that my grandmother instilled in me before she left this earth was the art of being happy for others—even when they’ve been blessed with something that you may still be praying for. Apparently, Taraji P. Henson has also mastered this concept.

The actress was up against Viola Davis at Sunday evening’s Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Davis won, making her the first Black actress to win the award in Emmys history, and Henson believes that the universe meant for it to be that way.

“It was bittersweet,” she told Ellen DeGeneres. “We all want to make history and be important to society and everything. But then, I thought about it. It’s 2015, and we have a Black president, but no Black woman has ever won in this category. This is weird! So when I went into it, and I knew I was being nominated alongside Viola, I was just like ‘God, please give it to one of us, so we never have to say this again! Let’s just break this barrier down and keep on pushing.’”

Henson adds that the respect she has for Davis would have made winning the award slightly uncomfortable.

“I think the universe is happy. Viola deserved that award and honestly, I would have felt weird if I would’ve gotten it over her. She’s been doing it longer, and you just got to give respect and know when your time is.”

As for Davis’ now popular acceptance speech about the lack of opportunity provided to women of color in Hollywood, which attracted its share of criticism, Henson says that it was necessary.

“I feel like the universe needed to hear that message last night,” the “Empire” actress expressed. “I just think the universe orders up what it needs when it needs it, and I think the world needed to hear what she had to say last night.”

She’s such a class act. And with a positive attitude like that, there’s no doubt that Miss Taraji’s time will come as well.

Penny For Your Thoughts: Nancy Grahn Was Wrong, But I Can’t Say I Loved Viola Davis’s Speech Either

September 21st, 2015 - By Penny Wrenn
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Viola Davis Emmys

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I am thrilled about Sunday night’s history-making Emmys. But I must admit, I halfway stand with Nancy Grahn, the White soap-opera star who tweeted “I wish I loved [the] #ViolaDavis speech” and I heard harriet y Tubman [sic] and I thought its a fucking emmy for gods sake [sic].”

I, too, wish that I loved Davis’s speech. As impressed as I was with her emotional tribute to Black women and her public declaration that the color line in Hollywood is real (and must be reckoned with), I wasn’t exactly caught up in the #BlackGirlMagic excitement that swept across social media. What’s more, I, too, heard Harriet Tubman and thought, “Really? We’re evoking Harriet…now?”

Don’t get me wrong, I actually think there’s scant an inappropriate time to bring up Ms. Tubman. But as soon as Davis finished those prefatory remarks that she attributed to the abolitionist, I couldn’t help but to raise an eyebrow. Something about the tone and tenor of that Tubman quote seemed like overkill, not to mention that my inner fact-checker was dubious about the context and origin of Tubman’s original words.

I couldn’t track down a reliable source for Davis’s Harriet Tubman quote (and no, BrainyQuote doesn’t count as a “reliable” source). But I did discover an online copy of Harriet, The Moses of Her People, a biography by Sarah H. Bradford that was first published in 1886. In the book, there’s a passage that reads as follows:

…she seemed to see a line dividing the land of slavery from the land of freedom, and on the other side of that line she saw lovely white ladies waiting to welcome her, and to care for her. Already in her mind her people were the Israelites in the land of Egypt, while far away to the north somewhere, was the land of Canaan; but had she as yet any prevision [sic] that she was to be the Moses who was to be their leader, through clouds of darkness and fear, and fires of tribulation to that promised land? This she never said.

Now, in those sentences, I heard echoes of Davis’s Harriet Tubman quote, but I didn’t hear the quote itself. For all I know, Viola Davis may have retrieved the quote from a prestigious Harriet Tubman research vault where she sat thumbing through hours of transcriptions of interviews with Tubman for her upcoming role as the abolitionist. Or, for all I know, Davis may have retrieved the quote from someone who used it as his email signature after reading it on BrainyQuote. A site, which, again, for all I know, may have first crafted the “quote” based on Bradford’s words, not Tubman’s. 

All that to say, I, like Grahn, wasn’t wowed by last night’s best actress speech. But, although she nearly lost me at Harriet Tubman, Davis quickly recovered my attention with that flawless one-liner: “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

Despite my own tepid reaction to what I like to call Davis’s “Field of Dreams Speech” (per those first few opening phrases, “I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful White women…”),  I emphatically applaud and affirm the How to Get Away with Murder star’s rightful place on that podium last night. I, like so many Black women, love me some Viola Davis; and I hold up her right to do or say anything she damn well pleases from the Emmys stage.

But guess what? Grahn, too, has the right to react to what Davis does and says from that Emmys stage. Which is why I’m going on the record as a Black woman who also didn’t care for the speech, but who also recognizes that there’s a thin line between not loving a speech and completely disparaging or undermining the speech-giver.

So, as much as I wish I loved Davis’s speech, I also wish Grahn hadn’t crossed that line. I wish she had spoken more humbly, more circumspectly (all the f-bombs and that “color me heartbroken” remark about people calling her racist didn’t sit well). Still, just because Grahn’s words were hurtful and irresponsible doesn’t mean she didn’t have the right to speak at all.

But there’s a slippery slope with the word “right” and who has the right to say what and to/about whom. In the case of Grahn and Davis, the slope gets even more precarious when you take into account the longtime “who has the right to say what” struggle between Black women and White women.

Grahn’s Twitter ranting about Davis reeked of dismissiveness and misplaced resentment. Two tweets, in particular, seemed particularly ill-tempered: ”Brilliant as she is. She has never been discriminated against” and “Try being any woman in TV. Wish she’d brought every woman in the picture. I wish I’d [had] opportunity to play roles she gets.”

First of all, Grahn’s so-called critiques were yet another instance of overkill that incited my inner fact-checker and, presumably, the inner fact-checker of any Black woman who has read enough Viola Davis interviews to know that her discrimination journey is a real one. It includes a fight to overcome her personal self-esteem challenges and a struggle to navigate a Hollywood landscape where there’s a dearth of roles for women of color. (Please read these great pieces by Stacia Brown and Rebecca Carroll that mention specific references about Davis being undercut by the media and her peers on several public occasions. This includes the time she was cut off mid-sentence by Charlize Theron.)

But the biggest problem with Grahn’s Twitter fingers is not that they were firing off inaccurate statements. The biggest problem is not even that what Grahn said was racist. (We can debate whether or not her comments were racist, but we know this for sure: They were rude.) The biggest problem is that this kind of blind rudeness from White women–the privilege of rudeness, if you will–is so exasperating to Black women. It’s absolutely nothing new, but it’s so damn persistent and treacherous and trying that it makes us want to holler.

When I read Grahn’s tweet about how she wishes she’d had Davis’s career and opportunities, I could picture all kinds of forward-thinking and progressive feminists of every color sighing to themselves. Saying, “See, that’s why women can’t have nice things.” Feeling disheartened by yet another moment that illustrates the longtime struggle between Black and White women, in the feminist movement and beyond, to come together.

As I emailed with my MadameNoire editor, Victoria Uwumarogie, about #AttilaTheGrahn, she made it plain. “Grahn’s way of sharing her opinions is [what] makes Black women feel like we can’t stand with White women. Because they don’t fully acknowledge or respect our experiences. And that is a reason some Black women don’t call themselves feminists.”

I won’t go so far as to say it’s not okay or permissible for Grahn, or any woman for that matter, to undervalue the experiences of another woman. The glory of feminism, after all, is wielding and sharing an unshakeable belief that it’s okay and permissible for women to say whatever we damn well please. And that goes for all women, whether or not those women are Black, White or otherwise, and whether or not we choose to quote Harriet Tubman or Harriet Beecher Stowe or Harriet the Spy.

But I will say this: Every woman’s words are permissible, but not all words are helpful. And by “helpful,” I don’t mean positive. I mean productive. And, look, we should know by now–and by “we,” I’m talking to both Black women and White women–that it’s just not productive when women go tit for tat with each other over who has had it worse.

I am not saying that White women need to nod along to everything Black women say or do, or vice versa. But, going back to what I said about the “thin line between not loving a speech and completely disparaging or undermining the speech-giver,” it’s time for White women and all women to stop dismissing each other. (That means: White women dismissing Black women for not having really struggled; Black women dismissing White women for flaunting their privilege; White women dismissing other White women for being too badass; Black women dismissing other Black women for not being badass enough).

Look, I’m not naive enough to suggest that Black women and White women should cease and desist to argue and disagree. No, there are too many dissenting voices, on both sides, that are too valuable for all that can-we-all-get-along jazz.

But I am strident enough to tell White women this: You must be more careful about how you bring Black women into your critiques and conversations and know that being more careful doesn’t make you any less bold. What’s more, the charge to be more careful doesn’t mean that you should stop bringing Black women into your critiques and conversations. In fact, you must keep doing so, as we also will keep bringing you into ours.

In response to Grahn’s critiques about Viola Davis, MadameNoire’s Veronica Wells wrote a great piece that essentially told Grahn to “shut up” (which, I admit, is understandable since Grahn was essentially telling Davis, “You didn’t struggle! You won! Now, shut up and be happy, girl!”).

Still, I wouldn’t go so far as to silence Grahn, or even to tell her “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I would, however, share these words with her that my father always repeats to me:

Be good and, if you can’t be good, be careful.

“She Has Never Been Discriminated Against” Soap Star Nancy Grahn Discredits Viola Davis’ Speech & Experience

September 21st, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Nancy Grahn

Source: WENN

Last night, Viola Davis made history by being the first African American women to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

And her speech was one for the record books.

She opened it 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. I can’t seem to get over that line.”

And then, in her own words she spoke:

“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 thanked the writers for redefining what it means to be beautiful, sexy, a woman and Black. And even acknowledged her fellow actresses of color for taking us over that line.

It was beautiful, poignant and timely. With whoops and screams, the audience seemed to appreciate it. Kerry Washington had tears in her eyes. But not everyone was pleased.

“General Hospital” star Nancy Lee Grahn expressed her disapproval… explicitly.

In a series of tweets, she wrote:

“I wish I loved #ViolaDavis Speech, but I thought she should have let @shondarhimes write it. #Emmys

Nancy could have stopped there. We would have still side-eyed her but she could have explained her way out of it. It was the subsequent tweets that dug an irreparable hole. In response to someone else, she said:

“@nxssy I do 2. I think she’s the bees knees but she’s elite of TV performers. Brilliant as she is. She has never been discriminated against.” 

Grahn was immediately criticized. But she still didn’t get the picture.

“@MelioraEsq and I heard harriet y Tubman [sic] and I thought its a fucking emmy for gods sake [sic]. She wasn’t digging thru a tunnel.”

She really did it with that last one. Grahn’s tweets began 11 hours ago and she is still, as I type, being roasted for believing that the Underground Railroad was a system of tunnels beneath the earth, leading to freedom.

Black Twitter is “kindly” letting her know that they were not.

Grahn has since deleted the last two tweets and apologized for her ignorance and acknowledged that she needed to check her privilege.

“I apologize for my earlier tweets and now realize I need to check my own privilege. My intention was not to take this historic and important moment from Viola Davis or other women of color but I realize that my intention doesn’t matter here because that is what I ended up doing. I learned a lot tonight and I admit that there are still some things I don’t understand but I am trying to and will let this be a learning experience for me.”

Then later: “30 yrs an advocate 3 human rights & now i’m a racist. Color me heartbroken. Twitter can bring out the best & sadly tonight the worst of us.”


I don’t know what I can say today that I don’t say any other week. It just surprises me that for all their power, influence and privilege in this country there are White people who still find a way to take offense when a person of color merely references their oppression. I truly wonder why it affects them so strongly and so negatively. Is it guilt? Are they threatened or is it just uncomfortable? Perhaps it would be easier for the collective White ego if we were to just pretend that discrimination doesn’t exist in the entertainment industry and Hollywood at large?

Either way, those days are over. I want to say that Grahn’s assertion that Davis had never experienced any discrimination was elitist or entitled. But what it really was, was just stupid. How dare she believe that she could speak to another individual’s experience, as if she had been there with her through every step of the journey that led to last night’s win? She wasn’t there. She doesn’t know. And though she’s been fighting for human rights for decades, there’s clearly more work to be done when she believes she, as a White woman, can tell a Black woman’s story better than the Black woman who already told it.

In my frustration, I just have two words for Nancy Grahn and the millions of other privileged White men and women who seem to believe Black folks are just speaking out about discrimination and injustice as a way to pass the time: Shut up.

Instead of finding ways to discredit your fellow actresses, women of color, listen, really listen to what they have to say. A Black woman saying she has experienced discrimination doesn’t mean that women, even White women, don’t have a hard time in the game. No one’s ever denied that. But why do you want to silence a colleague when she’s speaking about what’s real for her and others like her? The opinions expressed in the tweets may or may not have solidified Grahn’s status as a racist. I don’t know her. But I do know that the act of ignoring and then attempting to discredit or silence Black pain, experience and triumph is one that is deeply rooted in racism. And I hope Nancy sees that now.

Do better.

Why Viola, Uzo, And Regina’s Emmy Wins Are So Important

September 21st, 2015 - By Desiree Bowie
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2015 EMMY Awards

Source: WENN

Going into the 2015 Emmy Awards ceremony, I was cautious with my excitement. While this year’s show highlighted more Black actors and actresses than ever before, you can never be sure if those nominations will turn into a win. There are often politics at play in the selection of who wins what awards, and people of color have always managed to come out on the bottom. But this year, all that has changed.

I should’ve known something was in the air when Andy Samberg dropped a few jokes about the lack of diversity in Hollywood in his opening number. But I never could have been prepared for what was to come.

I watched with great pride as a joy-filled Viola Davis gave a standing ovation to a shocked and emotional Regina King. She did so to celebrate after King won the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her role in the ABC anthology drama, American Crime. I was thrilled to see this woman who I had grown up watching on 227 and Southland and watched grow into a mega-talented actress and director receive her accolade. It was about time.

There’s no possibility of Taraji or Viola winning. They’d never give us more than one award in the same event. That’s what I thought to myself after King’s win. Taraji P. Henson and Viola Davis had turned in such monumental performances on their respected shows that I hoped one of the ladies would win. But as a regular award show viewer, you start to note and expect patterns.

Then, the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series came up. I tempered myself. Now, Uzo Aduba is new to this category since they changed Orange is the New Black from a comedy to a drama. There’s no denying her talent, but she already won last year. She’s not a Tina Fey or Julia Louis-Dreyfus to mainstream Hollywood, so there’s no way they’d ever give her two awards in a row.

And yet, they did. When Jamie Lee Curtis announced her name, I was as surprised as Aduba herself. She got to the stage and was barely able to keep the tears in as she shook her way through a very grateful acceptance speech.

By the time Adrian Brody sauntered onto the stage to present the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama award, I was seriously doubting myself. Well, maybe people are ready to give credit where credit is due… When Brody called Davis’s name, I was taken aback. My eyes teared up and I stood up to get closer to the TV. As Taraji P. Henson, her fellow nominee, ran to Davis and hugged her with all of her might, I could barely contain my tears. To see this display of two Black women in their bliss, one congratulating the other, fully knowing the impact of the history being made, was Black Excellence embodied for all to witness on a national scale. Then cut to Kerry Washington weeping and clapping in the audience and my thug was all the way gone. The tears were a’flowin’.

And then there was the speech:

“”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.”

The first Black actress to win the award for best leading actress in a drama series. Can you believe that? Debbie Allen was the first Black actress to receive the nomination for her role in Fame, and she would go on to receive the nomination four consecutive times, but she never took the award home. Other actresses like Alfre Woodward and Cicely Tyson have received the nomination as well, as well as Kerry Washington, but the “White streak” would not be broken until last night.

Inevitably, her speech will probably be taken out of context. Inevitably, someone will complain that she excluded White women and it will turn into a pseudo #AllActressesMatter narrative and a watered down diversity debate. People can do all they want to destroy this moment, but it will be to no avail. For last night, we watched three beautiful, talented and accomplished Black women make Hollywood history. And hopefully, in the years to come, people of color being recognized for their talents in Hollywood will become commonplace instead of being an anomaly.


6 Things You Didn’t Know About Viola Davis

September 21st, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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Brian To/

Brian To/

Viola Davis made history at the Emmys on Sunday night as the first black actress ever to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” she said in her acceptance speech. (Read the full speech here.)

But the How to Get Away with Murder star is definitely not in rest mode, saying after her win that she’s back to work on Monday. “That’s how I digest it, ‘cause I can press the fast-forward button and I know that I’m gonna have to continue to be an actor, continue to make choices, continue to perform in a show every week,” she told ET Online.

Most importantly, the 50-year-old actress also noted that her mom duties never slow down — three-year-old daughter Genesis was already in bed when Davis tried to call her after the show. “She probably fell asleep,” the actress laughed, joking, “You ask how I handle the success, this is it. People are just not impressed by me at home.”

“Hopefully my daughter won’t break [the Emmy],” Davis laughed. “She’ll probably put candy in there.”

We’ve been locked in to see Viola Davis in her first leading role on the small screen from week to week, and can’t wait for the new season which begins this week on ABC. Brilliant, charismatic and seductive, Davis’ character Annalise Keating is smack-dab in the middle of murder, and more murder, with four students at the college where she serves as a law professor.

Davis has us intrigued — from her deep expressions to the delivery of every succinct line, and it’s been this way since the first time we spotted her onscreen. Still, it appears that her star is only beginning to shine so here are some details you may not know about the actress. Take a peek at our six little-known facts about Emmy winner Viola Davis, here.

1. Her role in The Help may have hit closer to home than people may think, as her own mother was a maid, factory worker and a civil rights activist.

2. Davis studied theater at Rhode Island College and went on to attend the Juilliard School in New York City. Although her love for acting started early, she didn’t score her first role until the late 1990s, a bit part in the film, Substance of Fire.

3. In 2001, Davis scored a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her contribution to Broadway’s King Hedley II.

4. In 2012 — post-The Help — she was noted as one of Time Magazine‘s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

5. She and her husband, fellow actor Julius Tennon, adopted a daughter named Genesis in 2011. When the baby was 16 months, she was already plotting out her love life. Davis told People magazine she hoped to set Genesis up with Sandra Bullock’s son. “I’d absolutely love to set her up with Louis. That kid is so cute. He’s going to be a bruiser. But let’s try to get a play date in first. If they are ever in the same place, we’ll get them together.”

6. Davis grew up, in her words, abject poverty.  “… for God to have brought me to this moment [of winning an Emmy] is kind of miraculous,” Davis marveled to ET. “It’s as miraculous as a tree growing from a seed.”

The Season 2 Premiere of How to Get Away with Murder is Thursday, September 24 10:00 p.m. (ET)

Viola Davis Is First Black Actress To Win The Emmy For Outstanding Lead In A Drama Series

September 21st, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater - Press Room Featuring: Viola Davis Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 20 Sep 2015 Credit: Brian To/

67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater – Press Room
Featuring: Viola Davis
Where: Los Angeles, California, United States
When: 20 Sep 2015
Credit: Brian To/

#BlackGirlMagic ran wild at last night’s Emmys when Viola Davis became the first Black actress to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

It’s the role of Annalise Keating in How To Get Away With Murder that brought Davis the win, of course, but it’s the actress’ perseverance in an industry that doesn’t necessarily want to see women like her succeed that allowed her to make history. Quoting Harriet Tubman in her acceptance speech, Davis said:

“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. 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.”

Recognizing “people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black,” Davis went on to shout out Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, Hallie Berry, and Gabrielle Union, saying “Thank you for taking us over that line.”

And then more tears ensued.

Watch Viola Davis’ moving speech below. Also, special shout out to Uzo Aduba who took home an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as “Crazy Eyes” in Orange is the New Black and Regina King who was named Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for American Crime.