The beautiful Viola Davis just made history, as the first black woman ever to win an Emmy for Outstanding Leading Actress in a series. Her role in How To Get Away With Murder as Professor Annalaise Keating has been praised countless times since the series’ debut in 2014 and her role is appraised alongside those of Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope on Scandal, Deception‘s Meagan Good and Taraji P Henson as Cookie in the massive series Empire and, of course, the notably diverse cast of Orange is the New Black.
Certainly, the growing visibility of coloured women on our screen is wonderful, with such shows dominating television ratings and challenging racist ideologies worldwide; but – and this there is no denying – the continued and ingrained racism which television and movie production companies and hierarchies continue to flout evidently hinder the existence of roles available for women of colour. And this is exactly what Davis emphasises.
As she takes the stage, resplendent and emotional in equal measures, Davis emphasises the lack of opportunities available for women in the entertaiment industry:
Let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else, is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. (Davis)
In that moment, Davis captures the heart of her audience, both before her and watching on screen, and Davis continues to take her opportunity to challenge hegemonic beauty myths which establish white women as desirable and beautiful, by quoting Harriet Taubman’s still relevant words:
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. (Taubman)
Davis continues to praising those that have withstood these racist ideals and created spaces for women of colour on screen and finally applauds those actresses who stand with her challenging these ingrained racist ideologies and proving women of colour worth their salt both on screen and off.