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"'The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."
—Viola at the 2015 Emmys, after she became the first Black woman to win the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
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"I see a lot of sexy women who are hard, cold, look like they have windswept hair and lip gloss and light makeup when they say it's no makeup. I work out five days a week, and I’m still not a size 2. So I wanted to see a real woman on TV. I wanted to see who we are before we walk out the door in the morning and put on the mask of acceptability."
—Viola during How to Get Away With Murder's For Your Consideration panel
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"As Black women, we're always given these seemingly devastating experiences—experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as Black women is take the worst situations and create from that point."
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"I will be bold enough to say, I have gotten so many wonderful film roles, but I've gotten even more film roles where I haven't been the show. It's like I've been invited to a really fabulous party, only to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show. I wanted to have a character that kind of took me out of my comfort zone, and that character happened to be in a Shonda Rhimes show. So I did the only smart thing any sensible actress would do—I took it."
—Viola at a 2014 Television Critics Association press tour
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"I mean, I'm a 46-year-old Black actress who doesn't look like Halle Berry… And Halle Berry is having a hard time."
—Viola during Newsweek's Oscar Roundtable
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"In the midst of the crisis, the midst of the storm and the midst of people turning you down and telling them that they're ugly and telling us…anything negative…that [Black women] can triumph from that and be a vessel of hope, that is God given. And we are blessed to be able to dream so big."
—Viola during her 2012 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Acceptance Speech
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"You can’t shine if you have two lines in the background as a bus driver. You can only shine if you’re included in the narrative, and narratives start when you put pen to paper and you use your imagination. You just tell a story. That’s all you do. You tell a story. You don’t put any boundaries on it. It’s infinite and that’s the only way we can do what we do is that people use their imaginations so that we can be included in it." Viola to ESSENCE.com
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"Vanity destroys your work. That's the one thing you have to let go of as an actor. I don't care how sexy or beautiful any woman is. At the end of the day, she has to take her makeup off. At the end of the day, she's more than just pretty."
—Viola to the New York Times in 2014
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"It's time for people to see us—people of color—for what we really are: complicated."
—Viola to the New York Times in 2014
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"I believe…that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, truly being who you are. And I've spent far too long apologizing for that—my age, my color, my lack of classical beauty—that now at the age of, well, at the age of 46, I'm very proud to be Viola Davis, for whatever it's worth."
—Viola during her speech accepting the 2012 Crystal Award for Excellence in Film
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