Viola Davis won an Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama for her starring role as morally ambiguous law professor Annalise Keating on the debut season of ABC's How to Get Away With Murder. And her win is especially meaningful: It's the first time a black woman has won the award.
Davis began her acceptance speech with a quote from Harriet Tubman: "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."
"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," Davis continued. "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."
Empire's Henson was also nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama, making this the first year two black women were nominated for the award.
Since Debbie Allen's 1981 nomination for Fame, only four other black women have been nominated in the category, including Washington, who stars on Scandal, created by How to Get Away With Murder executive producer Shonda Rhimes.