Viola Davis took home the very first ever #SeeHer Award at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday (Dec 11). The How To Get Away With Murder actress spoke candidly about the pressures women in Hollywood face and how she defiantly made her own rules.
“I’ve always discovered the heart of my characters, I guess, by asking ‘Why?’ When I was handed Annalise Keating I said, ‘She’s sexy, she’s mysterious.’ ” 51-year-old Davis pondered. “I’m used to playing women where I’ve got to gain 40 pounds and wear an apron. So I said, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to lose weight. I’ve got to learn how to walk like Kerry Washington in heels. I gotta lose my belly.’ And then I asked myself, ‘Well, why do I have to do all of that?’”
Davis paused several times throughout her speech while her peers clapped and cheered her on. Prior to winning another trophy in the evening for her role in the Denzel Washington directed film Fences, an adaptation of August Wilson’s acclaimed play, Davis spoke of the power she has as an actress.
“I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, and I just recently embraced that at 51,” Davis added. “I think my strongest power is that at 10 o’clock every Thursday night, I want you to come into my world. I am not going to come into yours. You come into my world and you sit with me, 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.”
Watch Viola Davis’ moving speech above.