ByJase Peeples, writer at
Jase Peeples

Tonight Viola Davis proved once again that no one gives awards speeches like she can.

After being nominated five times for her spectacular work in Doubt (2008), The Help (2011) and How to Get Away with Murder (2014, 2015), Davis finally grabbed a Golden Globe of her own, taking the prize for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Fences.

During her acceptance speech, Davis used the opportunity to not only thank those who helped her win the award, but shined a bright light on the importance of art and what it means to underrepresented communities as well.

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To the film’s star and director, Denzel Washington, as well as those who worked to bring Fences, the adaption of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, to life on the big screen, Davis said:

It’s not every day that Hollywood thinks of translating a play to screen. It doesn’t scream "moneymaker." But it does scream "art." It does scream "heart."

She went on to underscore why such stories matter, pointing out people like her father (who only had a fifth-grade education) seldom had the opportunity to see characters like themselves in entertainment and were now getting the chance to have their stories told to a broader audience.

To the original Troy, my father Dan Davis, born in 1936. Groomed horses. Had a fifth-grade education. Didn't know how to read until he was 15. But you know what? He had a story and it deserved to be told and August Wilson told it.

Watch the full speech in the video below.

However, Davis didn’t stop there. Entertainment Weekly reports she continued to highlight the importance of the film and its message in interviews backstage.

Very seldom does the average person get their due, especially with people of color. It’s always biopics…it’s always someone who did something tremendous in life that changed the scope of our country.

But I also like the stories of the smaller people. I think that it encapsulates time. I think that it’s universal. And inclusive, and that’s what August did, and all of that, it just felt like a very natural fluid movement to bring it to the screen.

When Davis was asked a follow-up question about ensuring that social progress did not regress in the era of President-elect Donald Trump, she eloquently responded:

I will, believe it or not, remove Trump from the equation because I feel that it’s bigger than him. I believe that it is our responsibility to uphold what it is to be an American and what America is about. And the true meaning of what it means to pursue the American dream.

I think that America in and of itself has been an affirmation but I think that we’ve fallen short a lot because there is no way that we can have anyone in office that is not an extension of our own belief system. So then what does that say about us? And I think that — if you answer that question — I think that that says it all.

Watch the full backstage interview below.

This isn’t the first time Davis has taken home an award for the role of Rose Maxson. She also scored a Tony Award in 2010 for Best Actress in a Play when Wilson’s Fences was revived at the Cort Theatre.

Davis also made history at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2015 as the first woman of color in history to win Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series, which she won for her role in in the series How to Get Away with Murder and she marked the moment by delivering a 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. 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.

Watch the full, moving speech below.

Davis continues to be a powerful force for change both on and off screen.

What did you think of Davis' speech at the Golden Globes?


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