“The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity.”
Go ahead. Let the line sink in. In fact, go even further and allow yourself to acknowledge that if you saw those words being spoken, you were a part of a moment.
“You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
What the Emmy for Viola means, along with the two Oscar nominations she has (and the Oscar win that she doesn’t have, not that it stopped anyone on the writing team last night from saying she did, live on air), is that she gets to say these things now, because she’s lucky enough to be at the very top of her game.
She acknowledges her pedestal, and her position. She acknowledges that she didn’t get there on her own – that it involved many, many people who re-imagined the roles for and about women of colour. She shouts out her peers, bringing them along with her, instead of making the moment about her success alone.
I almost don’t know what to say. We ask celebrities, people in positions of power, to use their platforms for good, to make change. “If you don’t like it,” people say, “get in there and change it!”
This is what Viola Davis is doing. She pointed out that she hasn’t done it alone, and that there can be room for many, many more to follow in her footsteps. It’s kind of unimpeachable. Which is why there have already been whiners and grumblers trying to lessen her accomplishment and her truly beautiful speech. Don’t let them. Remember that last night, you saw something fairly rare, and fairly amazing.