Viola Davis Acceptance Speech, Women in Hollywood

This is an important speech to watch. What she says, how she says it. It’s rare for an actress to be so articulate and insightful not just about acting, but about life. The thing about the awards race, or maybe just in general, when someone puts you in front of a microphone have something interesting to say, whether it’s written down or rumbling around in your head. Davis has plenty to say. Her speech gets better as it goes along.

Thanks to JustJared

60 Comments on this Post

  1. Tero Heikkinen

    I don’t want to put her down or anything, but the beginning was weird.

    “Please welcome, one of the greatest actresses of our time…”

    ‘Our time’ is 2008-2011? Ok.

  2. Tero Heikkinen

    I don’t want to put her down or anything, but the beginning was weird.

    “Please welcome, one of the greatest actresses of our time…”

    ‘Our time’ is 2008-2011? Ok.

  3. Oscarcrazy

    WOWw! What an amazing speech! I hope she sweeps this awards season!!

  4. Oscarcrazy

    WOWw! What an amazing speech! I hope she sweeps this awards season!!

  5. Such a beautifully honest speech! She says things that NEED to be said and heard, which is quite a feat for an Elle magazine event. I remember watching her awards season for Doubt and hoping that this wasn’t her one time in the spotlight. And say what you will about The Help, but at the very least it’s bringing her the exposure and attention she’s earned and deserves. And her performance really is astounding. Still think she’s the one to beat for BA.

  6. Such a beautifully honest speech! She says things that NEED to be said and heard, which is quite a feat for an Elle magazine event. I remember watching her awards season for Doubt and hoping that this wasn’t her one time in the spotlight. And say what you will about The Help, but at the very least it’s bringing her the exposure and attention she’s earned and deserves. And her performance really is astounding. Still think she’s the one to beat for BA.

  7. That was a very REAL speech filled with honesty and life. I would love to hear about her mother and grandmother’s stories. I really wish her luck during awards season.

  8. That was a very REAL speech filled with honesty and life. I would love to hear about her mother and grandmother’s stories. I really wish her luck during awards season.

  9. Daniel B.

    I was watching closely and suddenly it struck me – it is very likely that she wins this Oscar next year! I’m sure that neither Glen nor Meryl will be able to stop her.

  10. Daniel B.

    I was watching closely and suddenly it struck me – it is very likely that she wins this Oscar next year! I’m sure that neither Glen nor Meryl will be able to stop her.

  11. @Tero. Viola Davis has two Tony awards (one of which she won ten years ago) and an MFA from Julliard. It’s fair to say she is one of the great actresses of our time. It took Hollywood a while to realize that.

    Her career trajectory reminds of Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson’s. Respected working actors who’d done a lot of theatre but didn’t become stars until middle age.

  12. @Tero. Viola Davis has two Tony awards (one of which she won ten years ago) and an MFA from Julliard. It’s fair to say she is one of the great actresses of our time. It took Hollywood a while to realize that.

    Her career trajectory reminds of Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson’s. Respected working actors who’d done a lot of theatre but didn’t become stars until middle age.

  13. What an incredible speech!! I absolutely loved it and I love her. So honest, so candid, and truly inspiring, she’s a beautiful woman (or rather human being in general) inside and out.

    I hope that she can continue to inspire throughout the award season and beyond that, and that she starts getting the big leading roles that she deserves.

  14. What an incredible speech!! I absolutely loved it and I love her. So honest, so candid, and truly inspiring, she’s a beautiful woman (or rather human being in general) inside and out.

    I hope that she can continue to inspire throughout the award season and beyond that, and that she starts getting the big leading roles that she deserves.

  15. @Daniel B.

    I’m pretty sure neither Glenn nor Meryl would WANT to stop Viola. ;)
    Meryl especially. She said at the SAG Awards 2008: “My GOD somebody give her a movie!”
    She got her wish. 8)

    I wouldn’t mind to see Viola win. It’s about time for another black actress to finally win in lead.
    I hope she can hold the strong buzz around her.

  16. @Daniel B.

    I’m pretty sure neither Glenn nor Meryl would WANT to stop Viola. ;)
    Meryl especially. She said at the SAG Awards 2008: “My GOD somebody give her a movie!”
    She got her wish. 8)

    I wouldn’t mind to see Viola win. It’s about time for another black actress to finally win in lead.
    I hope she can hold the strong buzz around her.

  17. therealmike

    That was actually very sweet. I know it´s about the performances but now I wanna see her holding the golden statue.

  18. therealmike

    That was actually very sweet. I know it´s about the performances but now I wanna see her holding the golden statue.

  19. dinasztie

    She’s going to win the Oscar and I’m glad about it. Although a Glenn Close win would satisfy me the most, Viola is so incredible in The Help and deserves an Oscar for her work without a doubt. I think her dedication to her craft is most certainly appealing and will gain lots of respect. If she gives such speeches at the Globes, BFCA, SAG, BAFTA etc. she will win the Oscar. She has an incredible performance which alone should be enough but she has other things on her side as well.

  20. dinasztie

    She’s going to win the Oscar and I’m glad about it. Although a Glenn Close win would satisfy me the most, Viola is so incredible in The Help and deserves an Oscar for her work without a doubt. I think her dedication to her craft is most certainly appealing and will gain lots of respect. If she gives such speeches at the Globes, BFCA, SAG, BAFTA etc. she will win the Oscar. She has an incredible performance which alone should be enough but she has other things on her side as well.

  21. Tero Heikkinen

    She is SO going to win. Until we see the trailer for The Iron Lady. Just kidding, but that’s how it goes. Every time we get news, we back it up, for a day or two.

  22. Tero Heikkinen

    She is SO going to win. Until we see the trailer for The Iron Lady. Just kidding, but that’s how it goes. Every time we get news, we back it up, for a day or two.

  23. Tero Heikkinen

    And I know nothing of theatre. She could have 60 Tonys for all I care. I don’t even know what Tony really is.

    I’m here for the movies.

  24. Tero Heikkinen

    And I know nothing of theatre. She could have 60 Tonys for all I care. I don’t even know what Tony really is.

    I’m here for the movies.

  25. tututaya

    @TERO

    Viola Davis IS one of the greatest actresses of our time. The fact that you know nothing about Tony’s shows that you really KNOW NOTHING about acting. You don’t think that she and other actresses of color would like you to know what they can do with regard to film acting? The playing field is not level for women of color in this industry; and for an actress in the spotlight who has the momentum to WIN IT ALL to shed that light for those like yourselves who are UNENLIGHTENED is the reason I still struggle to do this.

    The roles black, asian, indian, some latin, and native american women are relegated to are usually as faciliators to plot points. Davis’ role in THE HELP was just as versatile and transformative as Jessica Chastain’s in all of her films.

    Look at the films Davis has done and the type of roles she was offered after her Oscar nom versus Chastain WHO HAS NEVER BEEN NOMINATED and then you’ll understand why they must seek other mediums like STAGE to show their versatility.

    VIOLA DAVIS deserves the Oscar because HERS so far is THE BEST PERFORMANCE! and I can’t wait to see her acceptance speech!

  26. tututaya

    @TERO

    Viola Davis IS one of the greatest actresses of our time. The fact that you know nothing about Tony’s shows that you really KNOW NOTHING about acting. You don’t think that she and other actresses of color would like you to know what they can do with regard to film acting? The playing field is not level for women of color in this industry; and for an actress in the spotlight who has the momentum to WIN IT ALL to shed that light for those like yourselves who are UNENLIGHTENED is the reason I still struggle to do this.

    The roles black, asian, indian, some latin, and native american women are relegated to are usually as faciliators to plot points. Davis’ role in THE HELP was just as versatile and transformative as Jessica Chastain’s in all of her films.

    Look at the films Davis has done and the type of roles she was offered after her Oscar nom versus Chastain WHO HAS NEVER BEEN NOMINATED and then you’ll understand why they must seek other mediums like STAGE to show their versatility.

    VIOLA DAVIS deserves the Oscar because HERS so far is THE BEST PERFORMANCE! and I can’t wait to see her acceptance speech!

  27. Tory Smith

    She is an actress of such depth, truth, and power. She threw me the rope. This is a great actor of color whom I look up to and RAN to see her in The Help. What a gem :-)

  28. Tory Smith

    She is an actress of such depth, truth, and power. She threw me the rope. This is a great actor of color whom I look up to and RAN to see her in The Help. What a gem :-)

  29. therealmike

    @tututaya: Don´t be mean to Tero. I´m not able to watch anything on Broadway ergo I don´t care about the Tonys. Does that mean we cannot judge who is a great actor and who is not? What we have seen so far of Ms. Davis are two extraordinary performances. Cause we´re talking here about the Oscars and movies not about theatre and the Tonys. I cannot agree with some who call her overdue because I´ve seen almost nothing of her.

  30. therealmike

    @tututaya: Don´t be mean to Tero. I´m not able to watch anything on Broadway ergo I don´t care about the Tonys. Does that mean we cannot judge who is a great actor and who is not? What we have seen so far of Ms. Davis are two extraordinary performances. Cause we´re talking here about the Oscars and movies not about theatre and the Tonys. I cannot agree with some who call her overdue because I´ve seen almost nothing of her.

  31. Tero Heikkinen

    Tututaya: You made it sound like I was racist. I am DEFINITELY NOT. I was only saying that I know nothing about THEATRE, and this is an Oscar site – a MOVIE site. We don’t have any book reviews here either.

    And to me, Viola Davis has been a supporting actress – a very good one. BUT I didn’t even know who she is just a few years ago. I have not seen The Help yet, and I’m anxious to see it.

  32. Tero Heikkinen

    Tututaya: You made it sound like I was racist. I am DEFINITELY NOT. I was only saying that I know nothing about THEATRE, and this is an Oscar site – a MOVIE site. We don’t have any book reviews here either.

    And to me, Viola Davis has been a supporting actress – a very good one. BUT I didn’t even know who she is just a few years ago. I have not seen The Help yet, and I’m anxious to see it.

  33. Tero Heikkinen

    If Davis gave the best female performance of the year, she deserves to win. But not based on Tonys or whatever. It’s the performance that counts, not the history. I know we bring these histories in many cases (like Meryl Streep), but in my eyes, Davis doesn’t have a notable history.

    And I’d like to think that I DO KNOW about acting. Film acting is acting, too. I have friends who are professional actors, I never see their plays, but I always see their movies…

  34. Tero Heikkinen

    If Davis gave the best female performance of the year, she deserves to win. But not based on Tonys or whatever. It’s the performance that counts, not the history. I know we bring these histories in many cases (like Meryl Streep), but in my eyes, Davis doesn’t have a notable history.

    And I’d like to think that I DO KNOW about acting. Film acting is acting, too. I have friends who are professional actors, I never see their plays, but I always see their movies…

  35. Goodness Gracious

    There’s a difference between not being able to watch the shows therefore having no opinion on them, and not having any respect for them. You don’t have to have seen someone’s Tony performance to know that they are well respected for it. In fact, Ian’t that the whole point of awards? To provide an artist with recognition that has meaning outside the context of experiencing their art? To provide an artist with noteriety beyond the ephemeral “favorite of the year!” accolades? If anything, the Tony is more meaningful than the Oscar because the movie can be experienced years later at it’s full effect. But after a stage production is over, anyone who missed out has no way of knowing that an actor gave the performance of a lifetime five times a week for six months. So no, winning a Tony doesn’t put you at the front of the line for an Oscar, but it certainly qualifies you to be talked about as one of the premier working actors.

  36. Goodness Gracious

    There’s a difference between not being able to watch the shows therefore having no opinion on them, and not having any respect for them. You don’t have to have seen someone’s Tony performance to know that they are well respected for it. In fact, Ian’t that the whole point of awards? To provide an artist with recognition that has meaning outside the context of experiencing their art? To provide an artist with noteriety beyond the ephemeral “favorite of the year!” accolades? If anything, the Tony is more meaningful than the Oscar because the movie can be experienced years later at it’s full effect. But after a stage production is over, anyone who missed out has no way of knowing that an actor gave the performance of a lifetime five times a week for six months. So no, winning a Tony doesn’t put you at the front of the line for an Oscar, but it certainly qualifies you to be talked about as one of the premier working actors.

  37. Goodness Gracious

    No one is saying she deserves to win the Oscar because of her Tony awards, but you implied in your first post that she was not a well respected actress because her film career was short. But the statement was “one of the greatest actresses of our time” not “one of the greatest film actresses of our time.” Her stage experience is valid to justifying this reputation.

  38. Goodness Gracious

    No one is saying she deserves to win the Oscar because of her Tony awards, but you implied in your first post that she was not a well respected actress because her film career was short. But the statement was “one of the greatest actresses of our time” not “one of the greatest film actresses of our time.” Her stage experience is valid to justifying this reputation.

  39. Tero Heikkinen

    Point taken.

  40. Tero Heikkinen

    Point taken.

  41. If anything, the Tony is more meaningful than the Oscar because the movie can be experienced years later at it’s full effect. But after a stage production is over, anyone who missed out has no way of knowing that an actor gave the performance of a lifetime five times a week for six months.

    Sorry but for me that makes the Tonys a frustrating evaporating tease. Happy for the winners, And I suppose I have to respect the choices. But wondering how great Alec Guinness might have been playing Dylan Thomas in 1963 tells me as much about his acting as speculating whether Richard Burbage rocked as Hamlet in 1601.

    If there was no film record of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, film scholars 30 years from now would just have to take Oscar’s word for it that it was the best performance of the year. I’m not so quick to have blind trust in strangers’ opinions of things I haven’t seen.

    “anyone who missed out has no way of knowing that an actor gave the performance of a lifetime “

    Goodness Gracious, Exactly. We have no way of knowing.

  42. If anything, the Tony is more meaningful than the Oscar because the movie can be experienced years later at it’s full effect. But after a stage production is over, anyone who missed out has no way of knowing that an actor gave the performance of a lifetime five times a week for six months.

    Sorry but for me that makes the Tonys a frustrating evaporating tease. Happy for the winners, And I suppose I have to respect the choices. But wondering how great Alec Guinness might have been playing Dylan Thomas in 1963 tells me as much about his acting as speculating whether Richard Burbage rocked as Hamlet in 1601.

    If there was no film record of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, film scholars 30 years from now would just have to take Oscar’s word for it that it was the best performance of the year. I’m not so quick to have blind trust in strangers’ opinions of things I haven’t seen.

    “anyone who missed out has no way of knowing that an actor gave the performance of a lifetime “

    Goodness Gracious, Exactly. We have no way of knowing.

  43. Tututaya

    @tero

    I have no idea how you arrived at the conclusion that I was calling you a racist by stating that women of color don’t hAve the same opportunities as caucasian actresses. Saying you are unenlightened by the plight of minorities is NOT the same thing. It’s not a slight against you, but it is quite telling of an even larger issue. The only way for you to know the brilliance of Davis and others like her should not be solely through stage but film. We don’t live in an all white world. Films should be just as diverse as ethnically rich as the population that supports them. Davis’ speech just iterates that.

  44. Tututaya

    @tero

    I have no idea how you arrived at the conclusion that I was calling you a racist by stating that women of color don’t hAve the same opportunities as caucasian actresses. Saying you are unenlightened by the plight of minorities is NOT the same thing. It’s not a slight against you, but it is quite telling of an even larger issue. The only way for you to know the brilliance of Davis and others like her should not be solely through stage but film. We don’t live in an all white world. Films should be just as diverse as ethnically rich as the population that supports them. Davis’ speech just iterates that.

  45. Tero Heikkinen

    I agree. The more diverse the better. If I lived in USA, I would probably know more about Viola Davis who I hope will get more and more roles, cause obviously she’s a good actress. In a way I just feel like I know more about her than an average movie-goer. That should change.

    And I don’t see this as a race issue, you do. I don’t think about actors’ ethnicities, political views or sexual orientations when I’m watching a movie. But I see your point, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Talk to Hollywood, not me.

  46. Tero Heikkinen

    I agree. The more diverse the better. If I lived in USA, I would probably know more about Viola Davis who I hope will get more and more roles, cause obviously she’s a good actress. In a way I just feel like I know more about her than an average movie-goer. That should change.

    And I don’t see this as a race issue, you do. I don’t think about actors’ ethnicities, political views or sexual orientations when I’m watching a movie. But I see your point, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Talk to Hollywood, not me.

  47. The standing ovation was nice but watch next year the same boring blonds (Witherspoon, Aniston and Heigl) will be on the cover of Elle and getting these awards.

  48. The standing ovation was nice but watch next year the same boring blonds (Witherspoon, Aniston and Heigl) will be on the cover of Elle and getting these awards.

  49. Pierre de Plume

    I still think Davis is going to win the lead Oscar. But I do hope she changes her hair style (or was it a wig?) to keep the bangs away from her eyes. Silly details like that affect AMPAS voters.

    And yes, she’s a powerful actress, known for her stage work, and Tony awards are an indication of accomplishment though — as in anything — the best work isn’t always rewarded.

  50. Pierre de Plume

    I still think Davis is going to win the lead Oscar. But I do hope she changes her hair style (or was it a wig?) to keep the bangs away from her eyes. Silly details like that affect AMPAS voters.

    And yes, she’s a powerful actress, known for her stage work, and Tony awards are an indication of accomplishment though — as in anything — the best work isn’t always rewarded.

  51. I don’t think Tero said anything wrong. Seems to me he was just criticising the modern propensity for hyperbole. That’s not the same thing as criticising Davis, who is indeed a great actress.

  52. I don’t think Tero said anything wrong. Seems to me he was just criticising the modern propensity for hyperbole. That’s not the same thing as criticising Davis, who is indeed a great actress.

  53. Houstonrufus

    Wow. What a wonderful speech. Ladies and gents, that personality will get her FAR. Not to imply her performance isn’t worthy. It is, I believe. But having this king of command at these sort of engagements will go along way with the voters. She is going to be very tough to beat in my opinion.

  54. Houstonrufus

    Wow. What a wonderful speech. Ladies and gents, that personality will get her FAR. Not to imply her performance isn’t worthy. It is, I believe. But having this king of command at these sort of engagements will go along way with the voters. She is going to be very tough to beat in my opinion.

  55. I don’t think Tero did anything wrong either. This is a hot button issue.

    Someone could make a good Hollywood satire about black actors in the Oscar race.

    Random but…

    A couple days ago, I watched James L. Brooks’ I’LL DO ANYTHING starring Nick Nolte and Julie Kavner. Good movie. I cried. (And no I’m not a chick.)

  56. I don’t think Tero did anything wrong either. This is a hot button issue.

    Someone could make a good Hollywood satire about black actors in the Oscar race.

    Random but…

    A couple days ago, I watched James L. Brooks’ I’LL DO ANYTHING starring Nick Nolte and Julie Kavner. Good movie. I cried. (And no I’m not a chick.)

  57. Okay now I just have to accept that this blog is really gunning for Viola come Oscar season. Was in denial for some time. Haha.

    P.S. Have nothing against Viola since she seems great and all but I am getting tired of the she is due to win argument. Did not even know her until The Help.

  58. Okay now I just have to accept that this blog is really gunning for Viola come Oscar season. Was in denial for some time. Haha.

    P.S. Have nothing against Viola since she seems great and all but I am getting tired of the she is due to win argument. Did not even know her until The Help.

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