Last night, Viola Davis won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for How to Get Away With Murder, making her the first black woman to ever win that category. Her acceptance speech was the highlight of the night.
And General Hospital star Nancy Lee Grahn had something to say about it.
In her speech, Davis said, in part:
"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.
This was apparently Grahn’s cue to pull a Taylor Swift and critique Davis’s speech, then talk about her own struggles as a (white) actress in Hollywood and not-so-subtly slam Davis for daring to talk about the lack of roles for black women during her moment on stage.This opened up the floodgates. People called her out for hijacking the conversation, but Grahn persisted. Then came the apology tweets after she was “schooled.”
And then around 4am, after her now-deleted tweets about how all actresses matter and how Davis should have used her stage for reasons that served Grahn’s purposes, she revealed she doesn’t actually know what the Underground Railroad—the network created in the 19th century to help slaves escape to free states, with assistance from Tubman, among others—actually is. During her speech, Davis called out other black women in lead roles, like Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson, but a look at the winners on stage last night shows there’s still not much balance.
Here is Davis’s full speech again, for context.H/T US Weekly | Screengrab via Television Academy/YouTube