EDITORIAL: Viola Davis' acceptance speech stirs up reaction, both positive and negative


The Microsoft Theater filled with over 7,000 people on Sunday night for the 67th running of the Primetime Emmy Awards. 

Twetnty-six awards were given out on Sunday evening, and among these was “How to Get Away with Murder” leading actress Viola Davis. She became the first African American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Annalise Keating, influential professor and lawyer.

Following the presentation of her award, she gave a rousing acceptance speech on the opportunities available to women of color in the television and film industries.

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is simply opportunity," said Davis in her speech. "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."

According to an article in Variety, Davis’ speech got: “a standing ovation from the crowd in Microsoft Theater on Sunday.”

However not everyone had a positive reaction.

“I wish I loved #ViolaDavis Speech, but I thought she should have let @shondarhimes write it. #Emmys,” wrote “General Hospital” actress Nancy Lee Grahn on Twitter after last night’s award show.

Reactions such as these to speeches given by influential women of color are one of the reasons that stereotypes and discrimination are perpetuated in today’s society. Davis’ acceptance speech was thought provoking; an opportunity for conversation surrounding African Americans and other minority groups in predominately white industries.

Grahn went on to profusely apologize in several follow-up tweets, still that does not forgive the words she initially displayed.

Davis’ speech influenced a scope of people wider than just African American women. She credited people, writers, who work to change what society perceives.

Davis said, “So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people — people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”