Viola Davis made history Sunday night as the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Davis took home the award for her performance on ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder. This is the Tony-Award-winning actress’s first Emmy win, and she began her emotional acceptance speech with a stirring quote from Harriet Tubman.
“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.”
Davis — currently working on a Harriet Tubman biopic for HBO — continued her speech by pointing out, “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” Thanks to ABC and showrunner Shonda Rhimes, the role of Annalise Keating will probably be there for a while.
The timing of this win is sure to bring more eyes to the series, as the first season just hit Netflix with the new season set to premiere this Thursday on ABC. Viola Davis proceeded to thank Rhimes, Oscar-winner Halle Berry, fellow nominees Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson, and more for helping to redefine Hollywood’s perspective of beauty and for “taking us over that line.”