Viola Davis has already made Emmy history when she nabbed a nomination for her portrayal of Annalise Keating on the show, How To Get Away With Murder. She is one of two African American actresses nominated for Best Lead actress in a Drama Series, a first in the history of the awards. Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie Lyon on Empire, is the second actress who will go head-to-head with Davis and other colleagues for the Emmy.
If Davis (or Henson) take home the trophy either will be the first African American to take home the honor. When it was announced Viola was nominated for an Emmy, she seemed shocked, despite the fact that she has been nominated for Academy Awards, and her transition from film to TV has been critically analyzed as some of her bravest work to date.
When she picked up the Best Actress nod, she said, “You know, it’s always a surprise when you get nominated. As an actor, you just never know how your work is going to land. Even when you feel great about it, you question it. As an artist, you’re always surprised by the outcome; and then you’re always honored. I’m in rarefied air, meaning: I’m a working actor on this level and working with great people and in great company – all of that is fabulous.”
She continued, telling Entertainment Tonight, “I’ve arrived at a time in my life where I’ve put in the work and I deserve to be there.”
Viola Davis has some competition cut out for her tonight. She goes up against Claire Danes (Homeland), Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), and Robin Wright (House of Cards).
Just last week, indieWire had Viola has a favorite to win the award. That said, they also left a spot open for Taraji P. Henson to take it too. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Henson took it, because her character is very loud and dramatic, as opposed to the subtle nuances that Davis has showed off.
Us Weekly, pointed out that even though the competition is tough, Viola Davis is likely to win in the end.
Her Emmy nomination, along with Tarji P. Henson’s is just another step in a battle for African Americans to be seen as multi-dimensional characters in entertainment. Davis has gone on record to talk about the rarity of someone like her getting a chance to play a character like Keating.
Back in September, Davis said, “There were lot of things that people did not allow me to be until I got [the role of] Annalise Keating. I was not able to be sexualized. Ever. In my entire career. And here’s the thing that’s even more potent: I’ve never seen anyone who even looks like me be sexualized on television or in film. Ever. When people say they’re tired of hearing that, I always say, ‘Okay, well, you give me an example and then I’ll stop talking about it. But I’m gonna talk about it until you hear it.’”
[Photo courtesy of ABC]