Viola Davis just made history at the 67th annual Emmy Awards Sunday evening.
She won "Outstanding Lead Actress in A Drama" for her work in How To Get Away With Murder — the first African American woman to do so ever. But was even more moving was her speech that followed, in which she addressed film and TV's not-so-secret secret about creating leading roles for people of color.
Not only are the majority of roles given to men over women, but last year a study found a whopping 73 percent of the roles in movies went to white actors. African Americans only accounted for 12.5 percent.
Davis didn't hesitate to bring this fact into the limelight in an emotional acceptance 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."
Here's to Hollywood and Television alike hearing what she, and what others have been saying for years.