Viola Davis made history at the Emmys last year, becoming the first Black actress to win Best Actress in a Drama Series. But it was her heartfelt acceptance speech that had everyone talking the next day. Now, the celebrated actress is sharing her thoughts on #OscarsSoWhite, reminding us that the awards show is a symptom of a much larger problem.
“The problem is not with the Oscars, the problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system,” the two-time Oscar nominee told ET at Elle’s 6th Annual Women in Television Dinner.
After Academy voters failed to nominate a single person of color in any of the acting categories for the second year in a row, Davis said the Academy voters should be asking themselves some questions. “How many Black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed? The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role?” she says. “Can you cast a Black woman in that role? Can you cast a Black man in that role?”
“The problem isn’t even our pay,” the 50-year-old actress continued. “You could probably line up all the A-list Black actresses out there [and] they probably don’t make what one A-list white woman makes in one film. That’s the problem. You can change the Academy, but if there are no Black films being produced, what is there to vote for?”
Davis also pointed out that she's not attending the awards show this year — but not because she's boycotting. "‘Cause I’m gonna be on vacation,” she says. But when asked whether she agrees with stars like Tyrese, who have argued that host Chris Rock should protest the event, Davis said it’s the comedian’s choice.
“Like I said, the Oscars are not really the issue,” she restated. “It’s a symptom of a much greater disease. But if he does [host], I hope he takes it as an opportunity to make a statement, a social statement about change. It’s 2016.”
Watch Viola Davis's now-legendary Emmys acceptance speech, and all the speeches from the Blackest Emmys in history, below:
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(Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images)