Taraji P. Henson Calls Viola Davis Emmy Win "Bittersweet," But It's Clear The "Sweet" Part Is The Most Important To Her
By now, you've probably heard the inspiring acceptance speech Viola Davis gave when she became the first black woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series on Sunday night. Now, you get to hear from Taraji P. Henson, the other history-making black actress who was nominated for the same award, but lost to the How To Get Away With Murder actress. On an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show airing Sept. 22, Taraji Henson called losing to Viola Davis at the Emmys a "bittersweet" moment for her, and also raised many important points diversity in the entertainment biz. The Empire star said,
It was bittersweet, you know what I mean, because we all want to make history and be important to society and everything. But then I thought about it. I was like, "It's 2015 and we have a black president and no black woman has ever won in this category. Like, this is weird." So, when I went into it and I knew I was being nominated alongside of Viola, I just thought to myself, "God, just please give it to one of us so we will never have to say that again. You know, let's just break this barrier down and keep on pushing." I think the universe is happy. Viola deserved that award. And, honestly, I would have felt weird if I had gotten it over her. You know what I mean? She's been doing it longer. You've just got to give respect and know when your time is.
The 45-year-old's words show that recognizes the huge significance of the historical moment when the award went to Davis. And at the same time, they show that she's still motivated to keep advancing the very same cause that her fellow actress is.
The cause they are both advancing, of course, is a push for more representation of women of color in the entertainment industry. The fact that Davis was able to win the award speaks volumes about her own tenacity. As she said herself in her acceptance speech, "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," and Davis made opportunities happen for herself. The 50-year-old's has already excelled in television ratings in an industry that is woefully unrepresentative of black women. And she has stood firm in her passion despite being doubted and served backhanded compliments about portraying an "angry black woman" and being "less classically beautiful." Now, she has the ultimate prize as recognition for her work, a huge deal for black women in the industry as a whole, including Henson. That's why Henson's props to Davis mean so much. It's obvious she realized the award was much bigger than just one nominee.
Though Henson understandably wanted to win the award, too (come on, she's human), she was able to give props to the person who is helping further pave the way for her, and other fantastic black actresses down the line. Henson's time to win wasn't this year, but one thing's for sure, her passion for acting and drive to win indicates that her time is coming. Soon. And hopefully, it won't be too much longer that the lack of black women in the industry will even have to be a discussion.