Leave it to Viola Davis to deliver a powerful speech.
Everyone was brought to their feet at Sunday night’s Critics’ Choice Awards in L.A. to celebrate the award-winning actress as she received the first-ever #SeeHer award. The honor, presented by the Association of National Advertisers in conjunction with A&E, recognized the talented star for her continued portrayal of strong female characters onscreen.
“Thank you,” the 51-year-old Davis began after a heartfelt tribute from fellow actress, Amy Adams. “It’s hard to accept being a role model for women when you’re trying to lose weight.”
“But it’s the truth,” the humble star continued. “I’ve always discovered the heart of my characters by asking why? When I was handed Annalise Keating [of HTGAWM] I said: ‘‘She’s sexy, she’s mysterious; I’m used to playing women where you gotta gain 40 pounds and wear an apron. I gotta lose weight. I gotta 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?’” as the crowd roared with applause.
“I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are and i just recently embraced that at 51. I think my strongest power is that, at 10 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. I think that’s the only power I have as an artist, so I thank you for this award and I do see her, just like I see me. Thank you.”
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Davis, clad in a sparkling Michael Kors number, was nominated for Best Actress in a Drama Series for How to Get Away with Murder (Evan Rachel Wood took that honor for Westworld) and also scooped up Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences.
Watch her acceptance speech in full above.