Viola Davis achieved something incredible at the Emmys Sunday night — she became the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress. And for some reason, that really rankled General Hospital actress Nancy Lee Grahn.
In a serious of bizarre and racist tweets, Nancy Lee slammed Davis’ acceptance speech (she won for her role Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder), which many found inspiring and served as a tribute to all black actresses struggling to be in cast in parts worthy of any award nomination, Variety reported. The speech earned a standing ovation.
“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is simply opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people — people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”
Grahn was unimpressed. And now she’s very apologetic for her comments, but not because she agreed that they were a little on the racist side, but because she was misunderstood.
Essentially, Grahn criticized Viola’s contention that it’s difficult for black actresses to get roles in Hollywood, arguing that all ladies have it tough.
“Im a f—ing actress for 40 yrs. None of us get respect or opportunity we deserve. Emmys not venue 4 racial opportunity. ALL women belittled.”
And Davis has never been belittled, in Nancy Lee’s estimation. In another criticism, Grahn declared that the Emmys were not the platform for “racial opportunity,” Fox News added.
Since Nancy Lee’s comments inspired some pretty epic backlash on Twitter, she has apologized, but writer Kirsten West Savali over at the Root called it “half-a**ed.”
“I apologize for my earlier tweets and now realize I need to check my own privilege. My intention was not to take this historic and important moment from Viola Davis or other women of color but I realize that my intention doesn’t matter here because that is what I ended up doing. I learned a lot tonight and I admit that there are still some things I don’t understand but I am trying to and will let this be a learning experience for me.”
According to the Root, Nancy Lee’s apology wasn’t accepted right away, and that ticked her off even more; she claimed that black people were “mean” and had ambushed her even though she was being sincere.
“Here’s the thing: Grahn apologized for being misunderstood, not for the racist nature of her tweets,” Savali wrote. “She just didn’t want viewers to forget about the poor, marginalized white women who also have it rough and Davis’ one minute speech threatened to minimize their suffering… Grahn’s insistence that all women are discriminated against equally in Hollywood is a misrepresentation and simplification of the truth.
Nancy Lee continues to say sorry, Essence reported, but it seems the apologies are falling on deaf ears.
“How many different ways should I apologize?” she wrote. “Mea culpa. Mea Culpa.”
[Photo Courtesy Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images]