The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Viola Davis makes history with powerful speech

Last weekend, actress Viola Davis made history for being the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Annalise Keating in the outstanding and very popular drama, “How To Get Away With Murder,” (HTGAWM).

After actor Adrien Brody called Davis’, 50, name as the winner, with shock and excitement, Davis kissed her husband, hugged her fellow nominee Taraji P. Henson and walked on stage with euphoric applause filling the Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. She gazed into the crowd with appreciation and began her emotional and powerful 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.”

She thanked the writers of HTGAWM for being “people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”

The support after her heartwarming acceptance speech was endless with standing ovations, tears and love on social media; but, as always, someone has to sprinkle their negativity on something good.

“General Hospital’s” Nancy Lee Grahn, who is a white woman, took to Twitter to express how she wasn’t a fan of Davis’ speech.

“I wish I loved #ViolaDavis Speech,” wrote 57-year-old Grahn. “But, I thought she should have let @shondarhimes write it.”

She continues with the tweet, which has since been deleted: “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.”

She also responded to a fan by tweeting: “I think she’s the bees knees but she’s elite of TV performers. Brilliant as she is. She has never been discriminated against.”

After her tweets, of course, the Internet wasn’t having it. With all of the repercussions Grahn received, she couldn’t take it anymore and tried to apologize the same way she attacked Davis, via Twitter.

“I never mean to diminish her accomplishment. I wish I could get her roles. She is a goddess. I want equality 4 ALL women, not just actors,” she wrote.

Grahn also followed up with a link to a longer apology about how she needs “to check my own privilege” and that she didn’t mean to “take this historic and important moment from Viola Davis or other women of color.”

“I admit that there are still some things I don’t understand,” she said. “But I am trying to and will let this be a learning experience for me.”

Thankfully, the good feedback outweighed the bad and great things were said about Davis and her speech, even by fellow nominee, Taraji P. Henson.

“I think the universe is happy,” Henson told Ellen DeGeneres on her show on Tuesday. “Viola deserved that reward, and, honestly, I would have felt weird if I had gotten it over her. She’s been doing it longer and you just have to give respect and know when your time is.”



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About the Contributor
Jasmine Imani Davis, Entertainment Editor
Entertainment Editor: Jasmine is a senior Journalism major who wants to make a change to the newspaper by bringing in more students who will shine a light on the talent at the University. [email protected]
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