In 7 Words, Viola Davis Articulated A Basic Truth About Race In America

If we can't talk about our race problem, how can we fix it?

Viola Davis used the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards stage Sunday night to deliver an important message as she accepted her award for best lead actress in a drama.

"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else, is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there," she said.

Later in a press room backstage, Davis explained why race and diversity in Hollywood isn't talked about nearly as much as it should be. According to, she said:

"We don't know how to discuss race. It's kind of like sexuality. It's possible to come together and agree, disagree, but I don't know if it's because of the history we've had that it feels like an indictment when we do that. Like I said, Harriet Tubman said 'I'm always trying to get to that line but I can't seem to know how.' People need to understand that there is a line and there is a difference when it comes to actors of color in this business. It's not an indictment. I'm very happy about a lot of things that have happened in my career. I'm blessed. But if it's been 67 years since an actress of color has won, then there's certainly been a line. And it needs to be acknowledged, just like the emperor being naked in the room."

Davis' words seem particularly relevant after Matt Damon’s misguided comments on diversity last week. That's why it's increasingly important for stars like Davis to use their platforms to start conversations about race -- and demand change. 

For her part, Davis has always advocated for fair representation in both TV and film. In January, she was recognized as the best actress by the Screen Actors Guild Awards for her lead role in "How To Get Away With Murder," and she delivered a powerful acceptance speech. Davis thanked the show's creators “for thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old dark-skinned African-American woman who looks like me."

She later added: "Thank you to all the people who love me exactly how God made me."

Watch Davis' empowering Emmy's speech below: 

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