Culture

After Making History, Viola Davis Gave A Powerful Oscars Speech That Left Pretty Much Everyone In Tears

by Katie Wudel

February 26, 2017

Viola Davis has earned herself a reputation for giving emotional speeches this awards season. So when she tearfully accepted her first Oscar Sunday night—as Best Supporting Actress for her powerful work in the film adaptation of playwright August Wilson’s Fences—it wasn’t exactly a surprise. But even typically droll host Jimmy Kimmel was a little weak in the knees by the time Davis left the stage, remarking, “Viola Davis just got nominated for an Emmy for her acceptance speech… I don’t know if anyone’s going to be able to make a speech after that.”

Notably, Davis is only the second black actor (after Whoopi Goldberg) in history with a Tony, an Emmy, and an Oscar under her belt—and she’s the first to earn all three awards for her acting. Now she just needs a Grammy to complete her EGOT. Below, read Davis’ full acceptance speech (and try not to end up in tears yourself):

Thank you to the Academy. You know, there's one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place 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 fell in love and lost. I became an artist—and thank God I did—because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.

So, here's to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people. And to Bron Pictures, Paramount, Macro, Todd Black, Molly Allen for being the cheerleaders for a movie that is about people. And words. And life and forgiveness and grace. And to Michael T. Williamson, Stephen McKinley Henderson, for being the most wonderful artists I've ever worked with.

And oh captain, my captain, Denzel Washington.

Thank you for putting two entities in the driving seat: August and God. And they served you well. And to Dan and Mary Alice Davis, who were and are the center of my universe, the people who taught me good or bad, how to fail, how to love, how to hold an award, how to lose. My parents―I'm so thankful that God chose you to bring me into this world. To my sisters, my sister Dolores, we were rich white women in the tea party games. Thank you for the imagination. And to my husband and my daughter. My heart, you and Genesis. You teach me every day how to live, how to love, I'm so glad that you are the foundation of my life. Thank you to the Academy. Thank you.

We are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.

Davis wasn’t the only one left weeping in the wake of a speech that will surely be remembered for years to come. Sunday night, the entire internet seemed to have gotten something in its eye:






 Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images

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After Making History, Viola Davis Gave A Powerful Oscars Speech That Left Pretty Much Everyone In Tears