Women of Color Wednesday: Viola Davis

This week’s #WomenofColorWednesday shout out goes to one of my favorite actresses, Viola Davis!

I’ve always been a fan of Davis, but I completely fell in love with this incredibly talented, intelligent, brilliant actress during her acceptance speech during the 2015 Emmy Awards.

Watch Davis give her speech here.

What stood out to me the most is when she said, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” I’ve never heard a truer statement than that. So many women of color miss out on chances to reach the peak of their potential not because they’re not good enough, talented enough, or educated enough, but simply because they lack the opportunities to do so.

Davis is one of the reasons why my life mission is to be a part of the change that the film/media/TV industry needs today: more women and more people of color. I want to be able to tell diverse stories by diverse story tellers, and create opportunities for those who would otherwise not receive them.

The fact that Davis is the first African American to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama (for How To Get Away With Murder) says a lot about the racial inequality in Hollywood and the lack of opportunities for people of color in the industry. There’s definitely a diversity problem, and that needs to change.

At this year’s SAG Awards, she said that “diversity should not be a trending topic…No matter what is going on in the business, I will find a way to practice my art, and all of the actors of color who I know don’t place any limitations on themselves either. So regardless of what is going on with the Academy, regardless of what is going on in Hollywood, they will find a way to be excellent. We always have and we always will.”

People like Viola Davis are the driving force to the changes that need to happen in the industry, and it’s important that people of color lead by this example and advocate for more opportunities for people of color — and women — in the industry. Our stories are just as valid as anyone else’s.

Viola Davis, thank you for being one of my greatest inspirations. It’s people like you that give me hope for diversifying an industry that is dominated by white men.