Viola Davis’ historic bid for her first Academy Award came to a close Sunday night, capping off with the actress winning a gilded statuette amid a monumental year for diversity in the awards race.
For her performance in Denzel Washington’s August Wilson adaptation, Fences, translating for the big screen the same stage role that won her a 2010 Tony Award on Broadway, Davis triumphed in the best supporting actress category, joining the likes of Hattie McDaniel, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Hudson, Mo’Nique, Octavia Spencer, and Lupita Nyong’o as one of only seven black actresses to have won the same award since the Academy’s inaugural ceremony in 1929. The win also makes Davis one Grammy short of becoming an EGOT.
Accepting the honor at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, Davis said, “There’s one place where all the people with the greatest potential are gathered, and that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time, ‘What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?’ And I say, exhume those bodies, exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who tell in love and lost. I became an artist and thank God I did because we are the only profession who celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people. Thanks for a movie that is about people and words and life and forgiveness and grace.”
The actress thanked her family in her emotional speech, praising her parents as “the people who taught me good or bad, how to fail, how to love, how to hold an award, how to lose … I’m so thankful God chose you to bring me into this world.” She also spoke to her husband and daughter, telling them, “You teach me everyday how to live, love. I’m so glad that you are the foundation of my life.”
She also thanked the Fences cast and her costar/director. “O Captain, my Captain, Denzel Washington: Thank you for putting two entities in the driving seat: August and God,” she said. “And they served you well.”
On Jan. 24, Davis became history’s first black actress to amass three Oscar nominations across the performative categories, having been nominated for her work in 2011’s The Help and 2008’s Doubt in the past.
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SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly, Joey Nolfi