*Viola Davis of ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” got a standing ovation for her acceptance speech at the Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday night.
“When I tell my daughter stories at night, inevitably, a few things happen,” Davis said while accepting the award for outstanding performance by an actress in a drama series. “Number one, I use my imagination. I always start with life, and then I build from there. And then the other thing that happens is she always says, ‘Mommy, can you put me in the story?’ And you know, it starts from the top up.”
Davis called out the lack of diversity in Hollywood, and thanked the “How to Get Away With Murder” producers (including Shonda Rhimes) for “thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old dark skinned African-American woman who looks like me.”
Davis beat out Claire Danes (Homeland), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), and Robin Wright (House of Cards).
In addition to thanking the Screen Actors Guild, Davis said, “Thank you to all the people who love me exactly how God made me – and that’s my beautiful husband, Julius, my 4-year-old daughter at home, Genesis, and my mother, Mary Alice Davis.”
Davis’ SAG speech echoes the one she gave at the People’s Choice Awards earlier this month, in which she took a dig at New York Times’ television critic Alessandra Stanley.
“Thank you Shonda Rhimes, [producer] Betsy Beers and [creator] Peter Nowalk for thinking of a leading lady who looks like my ‘classic beauty,'” she said, referring to Stanley’s assertion that Davis was “less classically beautiful” than Halle Berry or Kerry Washington. “I’m so proud to be an actor and so happy to do what I do. And I’m so happy that people have accepted me in this role at this stage in my career.”