It was a striking site to see “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson leap to her feet, as if her chair was on fire, when beloved veteran actress Viola Davis became the first black woman to win best actress award at the Emmys on Sunday.
Close by, Kerry Washington had dissolved in tears as if she had won the award herself.
It is remarkable that it took until 2015 for a black woman to have accomplished this with the multiplicity of talented African American actresses throughout the annals of history. But Academy Award-nominated Davis became the first black to win a drama lead actress Emmy for her role as a tough criminal defense lawyer in ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder.”
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” Davis said in a poignant and powerful acceptance speech. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
Davis thanked all the writers and producers “who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”
Two other black actresses, Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”) and Regina King (“American Crime”), were also among Sunday’s winners, while Jill Soloway joined the small club of women to win a directing Emmy, for the transgender comedy “Transparent.”
Celebrities were among the legion of fans who were quick to congratulate Davis and who were awed by her acceptance speech: