At last night’s Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, Viola Davis took home the award for Best Female Actor in a Drama Series for her performance in How to Get Away With Murder. The show had generated plenty of buzz (not all of it racially sensitive) before it even aired, with one critic referring to Davis as “less classically beautiful” than other people Shonda Rhimes could have cast in the lead role. The win seemed to be particularly gratifying for Davis, who in her acceptance speech turned her focus on the lack of diversity in Hollywood.
“When I tell my daughter stories at night, inevitably, a few things happen,” Davis said. “No. 1, I use my imagination. I always start with life, and then I build from there. And then the other thing that happens is she always says, ‘Mommy, can you put me in the story?’ And you know, it starts from the top up.”
She then went on to thank Rhimes and others for believing that their “mysterious” lead character “could be a 49-year-old, dark-skinned, African-American woman who looks like me.”
Davis’ speech with certainly resonate during this awards season, where all 20 Oscar nominees in the four acting categories are white and the show as a whole has come under fire for its lack of racial awareness.