No one was surprised when Viola Davis was announced as the winner of the Supporting Role category at last night’s Academy Awards for her phenomenal performance in Fences. Her acting skills are undoubtedly amazing, and she has proven herself worthy of every nomination she has received. From her role of Aibileen Clark in The Help to Professor Annalise Keating in the hit TV show How to Get Away with Murder, Davis’ victory was well deserved.
Because of Davis’ new Oscar, she has now joined the elite group called the Triple Crown of Acting which is a term used to describe actors who have won an Emmy, Tony, and Academy award. There are only twenty-three of these actors in the world, and what makes this an even sweeter victory for Viola Davis is that she is the first African American to join this rank. Yes, of the thirteen women and nine men before Davis, none of them were POC. Therefore, Davis’ win is historic in nature. While Whoopi Goldberg is technically the first African American to become part of this exclusive group, her Tony came from producing, not acting. An admirable feat indeed, but different from Davis’.
With Hollywood’s sad history of underrepresenting minorities in Academy Awards, Viola Davis has set a precedence that will inspire an entire new generation of minorities to pursue a career in the arts knowing that it is in fact possible to deserve recognition in a field that is predominantly white. Then again, there are those that argue that #OscarsSoWhite and the blame against Hollywood is unnecessary, and if minorities want to be nominated, then they should simply perform better. However, what many fail to recognize is that Hollywood creates an extremely minute amount of significant roles where people of color can truly show their talent without being limited by the stereotypical nature of their role. How can black people be expected to show versatility in acting when their characters are often shown as angry friends who are only there to add a comedic value because of their falsely portrayed attitude?
Viola Davis has shattered the ceiling and enabled younger people to foresee themselves as the next actor who will create many firsts. In her beautiful speech, she mentions how she is fortunate to be an actor because it is a profession that allows her to celebrate life. And through her acting, she truly does. She celebrated the lives of the many women who silently struggled and made a difference in their own ways through their sacrifices. Davis’ victory serves as a beacon of hope for the current minority actors who are starting in the showbiz world and question the validity of their dreams. Viola Davis’ win made history last night, and it is no doubt that she will continue to stun people with her stellar performances in years to come. But her greatest victory is igniting something in the hearts of little girls who can now envision themselves holding the golden statue in the future without thinking that their color of skin will prove to be a barrier.
You can watch Viola Davis’ emotional speech here.