With her Oscar win for the best Supporting Actor for her role as Rose Maxson in ‘Fences’, Viola Davis became the first black woman in history to win an Oscar. Fences is the movie adaptation of a play by August Wilson, and in her acceptance speech she remembered Wilson’s dedication in bringing out the humanity of life.
“You know, there's one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered — one place, and that's the graveyard,” Viola said.
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, added Viola in her acceptance speech.
She singled out her director Washington, glancing down at him sitting in the front row at the Dolby Theatre.
"Thank you for putting two entities in the driving seat: August and god," Davis said. "They served you well."
The Juilliard-trained actress also thanked her parents, Dan and Mary Alice Davis, who raised her in the impoverished town of Central Falls, Rhode Island.
She won an Emmy in 2015 for ‘How to Get Away With Murder,’ becoming the first black woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. And she’s now won two Tonys — the first in 2001 for ‘King Hedley II’, and the second in 2010 for her role in ‘Fences’