Nancy Lee Grahn Pulls An #AllLivesMatter In Wake Of Viola Davis’ Historic Emmy Win

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Emmy Awards: Viola Davis makes history winning for lead drama actress, seizes opportunity in her speech.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – History was made at the 67th Annual Emmy Awards Sunday night when Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a drama series.My Twitter timeline was ecstatic over the Apple Music spot, directed by Ava DuVernay, the celebrated and under-awarded director of “Selma.” How did a commercial steal the Emmy spotlight? Davis won for her role as the professor and defense attorney Annalise Keating in ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” which just entered its second season.

She directly addressed the lack of diversity on television, saying, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” Sunday night, “General Hospital” actress Nancy Lee Grahn, who is white, took to Twitter and said that the Emmys were not a “venue [for] racial opportunity” and that Viola Davis “has never been discriminated against.” Social media was quick to criticize her, and by Sunday evening she was a trending topic on Twitter. Grahn quickly apologized and then fired off a series of tweets that sought to explain her thinking. “I never expected every black Twitterer to attack … and after being on my knees have no [forgiveness],” she wrote in her series of tweets. She also said that she felt “betrayed” by people she “would’ve marched for.” This was widely criticized as being patronizing, as if her commitment to social justice was predicated on black people being nice to her. According to Cate Young, author of feminist pop culture blog BattyMamzelle, “white feminism” is feminism that is aware of sexism but fails to “consider race as a factor in the struggle for equality.” But as Young and others have explained it, “white feminism” is not necessarily feminism by white people. Henson, who played the outrageous and outspoken Cookie Lyon on Fox’s music drama “Empire.” During Davis’ acceptance speech, the cameras caught a visibly moved Henson standing, applauding her victory.

When back in the day, I think that casting executives were not putting these actors in the shows because they thought it’s not what the world wanted to see,” Wagmeister said. Davis returned the favor with her words, name-checking Henson and other black actresses — Halle Berry, Nicole Beharie, Kerry Washington, Meagan Good and Gabrielle Union — for “taking us over that line.” She also thanked ABC President Paul Lee, Disney-ABC President Ben Sherwood and “Murder” producers Shonda Rhimes and Peter Norwalk, “people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.” “I keep saying this same quote over and over: ‘Stories never end. I’ve seen the unemployment line a lot.” The historic night comes months after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences caught flak for not nominating one person of color in its four acting categories, spawning a social media hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite.

Before this year, there had been only two black actresses nominated for a lead drama actress Emmy: Debbie Allen in 1982 for “Fame” and Washington, nominated in 2013 and 2014 for “Scandal.” Isabel Sanford is the only black actress to win on the lead comedy side, taking the Emmy for “The Jeffersons” in 1981. Only 13.7% of television show staff writers are minorities — and that figure includes men. (In a reply to an email requesting numbers of black female writers, or woman of color writers in general, a WGA representative said that those specific statistics were not available. It was as if they were being told, yet again, “There is only so much room for people like you here.” It’s a message that has been also spoken literally — one black woman filmmaker was told that the market could only support two “black films,” even if they were completely different genres. This is the same Viola Davis who was pretty much called ugly in comparison to lighter skinned actresses in the New York Times, the very same commentary that called Shonda Rhimes an angry black woman. I’ve been a fan of the “If I shine, you shine” mentality since the ’90s, when Wu-Tang Clan and other hip-hop giants talked about winning through unity.

But more recently, writer Ann Friedman has gotten credit for the Shine Theory as it relates to declawing cat fights and pushing sisterhood. “When we hate on women who we perceive to be more ‘together’ than we are, we’re really just expressing the negative feelings we have about our own careers, or bodies, or relationships,” Friedman writes. “Here’s my solution: When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her.” So when I say black girls rock, it doesn’t mean other girls don’t.

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