Viola Davis made history at the Emmys tonight, becoming the first black woman to win Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her role as the conflicted, unperfect Annalise Keating in How to Get Away With Murder. Her win came after two other black women took home Emmys — Regina King for American Crime, and Uzo Aduba’s second consecutive statuette for Orange Is the New Black — and by the time she went onstage, Davis knew full well what it meant. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”
Here’s a full transcript of the 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 and Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goodes, to Gabrielle Union. Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you for the Television Academy. Thank you.
And we would be remiss if we did not leave you with fellow nominee Taraji P. Henson, the viewer surrogate for the night: