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The acceptance speech

I enjoy watching award shows- they entertain me and provide me with some comic relief for about two and a half to three hours. I watch almost every award show except for the Emmy’s. It’s funny because for someone who watches a lot of TV, I don’t watch the main award show that recognizes the performers or the show itself for its accomplishments.

Even though I didn’t watch the Emmy’s this year I knew that for the first time ever there were two black women nominated for the “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series” category, something that has never happened before. The two black nominees were Taraji P. Henson who plays Cookie Lyon on Empire and Viola Davis who plays Annalise Keating on How To Get Away With Murder.

It was a battle for the Emmy: Cookie vs. Annalise, who was going to win it? Was Empire going to win? The show that pushes every boundary? The rawness of it rubs some people the wrong way but, at the same time, you can’t stop watching it. It’s eclectic, exciting, and in-your-face. Or was it going to be How To Get Away With Murder? The show that is more “sophisticated” than Empire, and not as “ghetto”.

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“For the first time ever, a black women has won an Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series”.”

Was Viola Davis going to win for the scene where her character Annalise took her wig off and strips off every bit of makeup, piece by piece, removing every cosmetic covering? She was exposed and all of her beautiful blackness was on display for the world to see. What an image she portrayed. How many actresses could have done that with such power? It was fierce. To deny her in the award would have been a travesty.

That may not have been the exact reason why Viola Davis won, but she did, and for the first time ever, a black woman has won an Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series”. I watched a video of her acceptance speech and it was so emotional. As soon as her name is called for winning she throws her hands up in the air in a state of shock. Taraji P. Henson stands and applauds her for the win because she knows that history has just been made. Viola and Taraji engage a hug that to me means, “We did it, we made it.”

Viola then makes her way to the stage to give her speech. She starts off with a quote from Harriet Tubman. She then says, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” She gets a lot of applause from the audience after saying that. She then talked a little bit more and ended her speech thanking black actresses like Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington, and Gabrielle Union, for what they have done for black women today in the television world.

This moment was beautiful and history was made. I can’t believe that someone would try to take this moment away from Viola Davis. General Hospital actress Nancy Lee Grahn had a lot to say on Twitter about Viola and her acceptance speech.

Some of Grahn’s tweets:

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

— Nancy Lee Grahn (@NancyLeeGrahn) September 21, 2015

 

“@JanvierNoir Harriet Tubman not equivalent to great roles Viola Davis hired 2play. She’s made millions. It is unfair comparison.”

— Nancy Lee Grahn (@NancyLeeGrahn) September 21, 2015

 

And here is one of her tweets that she deleted but Buzzfeed was able to save.

 

“Im a f**king actress for 40 yrs. None of us get respect or opportunity we deserve. Emmys not venue 4 racial opportunity. ALL women belittled”

 

Yes everyone has their First Amendment right to freedom of speech but the things Nancy was saying were not done during the right time or context. She was rude and disrespectful toward Viola Davis. Since she did something so dramatic over social media, she of course got negative backlash. The negative backlash probably led to this apology Grahn tweeted:

 

“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.”

— Nancy Lee Grahn (@NancyLeeGrahn) September 21, 2015

 

It may be safe to say that Grahn learned her lesson and will probably never make that mistake. Either way, Viola Davis made history on September 20th, 2015 and for that I congratulate her and hope that no one will ever take that moment and feeling away from her.