When New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley referred to Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder executive producer Shonda Rhimes as “an angry black woman” and called How to Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis “less classically beautiful” than Scandal’s Kerry Washington and Extant’s Halle Berry in a September 2014 article, the internet (Rhimes included) rightfully erupted in outrage.
But on Sunday night at the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Davis got the last laugh.
The How to Get Away With Murder star won the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, and seemingly used her acceptance speech to address anyone who feels it’s “unconventional” that someone who looks like her would be the star of a hit primetime television series.
“I’d like to thank Paul Lee, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Bill D’Elia, and Peter Nowalk for thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old dark-skinned African-American woman who looks like me,” Davis said, calling out the president of ABC Entertainment Group (Lee) and the executive producers of How to Get Away With Murder. “Thank you to all the people who love me exactly how God made me. And that’s my beautiful husband, Julius [Tennon], my 4-year-old daughter at home, Genesis, and my mother, Mae Alice Davis. Thank you so much.”
Since the Screen Actors Guild Awards were first established in 1995, only three women of color have won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series: Viola Davis, Chandra Wilson at the 2007 SAG Awards for Grey’s Anatomy, and Sandra Oh in 2006 for Grey’s Anatomy — all stars from shows produced by Shonda Rhimes’ ShondaLand.
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