Viola Davis Emmys Reaction: Celebrities Praise Historic Win And Speech

Truth rating: 10
Viola Davis Emmys Reaction

By Shari Weiss

Viola Davis Emmys Reaction

(Getty Images)

Viola Davis is receiving high praise for her historic Emmys win, and the moving, poignant speech she gave about diversity in Hollywood.

As Gossip Cop reported, at Sunday’s Emmy Awards Davis became the first African-American to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role on “How To Get Away With Murder.” In her acceptance speech, Davis began with a quote from Harriet Tubman about the barriers to equality, and went on to say, “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.” She ended by giving shout-outs to fellow nominee Taraji P. Henson, Halle Berry, Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union and Nicole Beharie for helping to redefine “what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”

Not surprisingly, those women were not only in awe of Davis’ win, but touched that she specifically mentioned them by name. Union exclaimed on Twitter, “OMG!!! I’m floored… and proud and crying… VIOLA VIOLA VIOLA!!! Thank you for letting us share your shine!!! Man… tears.” Washington declared, “AMEN!!!! Best speech of the night.” And Beharie tweeted, “Tonight. Sisterhood. Fearlessness. Inspired.”

Shonda Rhimes, who executive produces Davis’ show, said she was “speechless” after her star’s remarks. Oprah tweeted, “Wow , WOW! Another proud to spell my name W.O.M.A.N. Moment. Thank you @violadavis.” And she went on to write to Rhimes, “Couldn’t have happened without you dear Shonda. Thanks for kicking that door open wide enough for @violadavis to soar thru.”

Many completely unassociated with Davis and “How To Get Away With Murder” were just as enthusiastic. Sherri Shepherd posted, “The most inspiring speech given by @ViolaDavis & dedicated2 women of color. Thankyou Viola -you made this Sista proud.” Zendaya tweeted, “Thank you @violadavis for being all that you are…I appreciate you so much #makinghistory #WOC.” Angie Harmon even quoted the speech, writing, “HUGEST & MOST HEARTFELT CONGRATS TO @violadavis ! 1st NOM, 1st WIN! ‘In my mind, I see a line’ BEAUTIFUL…”

“@ViolaDavis, you’re spectacular,” tweeted Ellen DeGeneres. Julianne Moore commented, “@violadavis CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Beautiful work, beautiful speech!!!!” Andy Cohen went as far as demanding, “VIOLA DAVIS FOR PRESIDENT!” Amber Riley also noted, “I don’t think I’ve ever cried during an award show, but seeing @UzoAduba and @violadavis WIN!? My heart couldn’t be happier!!! Congrats!”

Katie Couric remarked, “She’s a wonderful person. So happy for @violadavis #powerful.” Yvette Nicole Brown wrote to her followers, “Know this about @ViolaDavis. Whenever she opens her mouth, there will be WISDOM. Speak the truth!” And there are many more similar celebratory tweets.

As Gossip Cop noted earlier, however, at least one star took issue with Davis’ speech. “General Hospital” actress Nancy Lee Grahn complained on Twitter that Davis was exclusionary by only recognizing the plight of black actress when female actresses in general often face an uphill battle in the entertainment industry. Grahn has been widely slammed for her statements. TELL US:

Enter your email address here to receive daily news updates from us.


  1. Gossip Cop
  2. Mediaite
  3. RunwayRiot
  4. The Mary Sue