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‘I Look Forward to the Day When We No Longer Have to Teach People How to See Us’: Viola Davis Speaks on Her Invisibility Outside of Black Awards Shows

Actress Viola Davis has reached a point in her career where holding back her talent or her thoughts on the entertainment industry is no longer a thing. 

The “How to Get Away With Murder” star proved just that following her wins for Outstanding Actress in both a Drama Series — “How to Get Away With Murder” — and a Motion Picture — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — at the 52nd NAACP Image Awards on March 28. 

Viola Davis joined by her husband Julius Tennon for the 52nd NAACP Image Awards. (Photo: @violadavis/Instagram)

When asked about her thoughts on the NAACP Image Awards celebrating Black actors in the ways they should be regarded in all other award shows she had much to say.

“Well, what it says about the NAACP Image Awards is thank God for the NAACP Image Awards or else we would still stay in the cloak of invisibility,” Davis said. 

The 55-year-old is no stranger to being celebrated for her work and ability to captivate audiences. In fact the only award keeping her from joining the short list of EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winners is a Grammy. But even with praise from her industry peers, and countless awards to showcase, Davis deeply understands that acknowledging Black artists for their talents is very much a work in progress.

“What I will say about Hollywood is the same thing I say about Black history, that actors and artists of color, we are artists, we belong in the same conversations as everyone else,” she said. “And it’s because a lot of times we are forgotten, or not held in as much esteem as sometimes our white counterparts is why we need NAACP Image Awards, is why we need Essence Luncheon.”

The actress, who a few weeks ago admitted that early on in her career she tried to make her blackness disappear while performing, said that imagining a day where Black artists no longer are forced to recognize themselves is not one she readily looks forward to. 

“Literally look, I don’t know if I can say I look forward to the day where there is no NAACP Image Awards or whatever because, it’s, listen, we’re dope, right?” Instead, Davis is looking to the day where Black artists no longer have to demand to be acknowledged in spaces created to award all talent.

“I look forward to the day when we no longer have to teach people how to see us, that we no longer have to keep, you know, trying to break out of that shroud of invisibility, where we, our talent can be embraced as much as our white counterparts.”

Her fans agreed with her perspective.

“Powerful message indeed, we have been here from the beginning of ACTING, yet, invisible. But, today we are claiming our rightful place in Hollywood and every media sector that we have equal talents and ability.”

“Viola you are amazing and yes dope!  We love you.  We take pride that you look like us.  We take pride that you honor our culture with your incredible artform!”

“That 👏🏾  part!”

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