Viola Davis won the first ever #SeeHer Award at the Critics' Choice Awards Sunday night, and delivered a powerful whopper of a speech.
Last night at the Critics' Choice Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., Davis accepted the #SeeHer Award, which honors those who have made strides in portraying women in an accurate light in film and television. Davis has been a strong proponent of equal rights for years, and is well-known for such strong roles as Annalise Keating in ABC's How to Get Away with Murder and Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad, Oscar-nominated turns in Doubt and The Help and now the Denzel Washington-directed drama Fences.
"Thank you," Davis began, accepting the award, before quipping, "It's hard to accept being a role model for women when you're trying to lose weight."
On a more serious note, she explained, "I've always discovered the heart of my characters by asking: 'Why?' When I was handed Annalise Keating I said: 'She's sexy, she's mysterious ... I'm used to playing women that [I] have to gain 40 lbs. [for] and wear an apron. So I said: 'Oh, I've got to lose weight, I've got to learn how to walk like Kerry Washington in heels,' ... And then I asked myself: 'Well, why do I have to do all of that?'"
The crowd was very receptive breaking into applause multiple times as she explained that it is "the privilege of a lifetime" to be who she is and embrace herself at the age of 51.
While television has made strides in casting minority leads over the past few years, Davis' lead role in How to Get Away with Murder as a black woman who isn't a size zero is certainly a rarity. The actress made note of how, with each new episode, the viewer gets to step into her world, not the other way around.
"At 10 p.m. every Thursday night I want you to come into my world," she said. "I'm not going to come into yours. You can come into mine. My size, my hue, my age and you sit. And you experience. And I think that's the only power I have as an artist. So I thank you for this award and I do see her, just like I see me."
Later in the night, Davis won the Best Supporting Actress award for playing Rose Maxson in Fences.