Exhume those bodies.
Viola Davis wasn't afraid to get dark during her earth-shaking Oscars speech, where she finally won her first Academy Award for best supporting actress for Fences.
She started her speech at the cemetery. "You know there’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered—one place, and that’s the graveyard," she said. "People ask me all the time, 'What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?' And I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost.”
Davis continued by praising her chosen craft. "I became an artist and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life," she said. "So here’s to August Wilson who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people."
She also shouted out her Fences director and on-screen husband, Denzel Washington — "And oh captain, my captain, Denzel Washington, thank you for putting two entities in the driving seat, August and God, and they served you well" — before dedicating the rest of her speech to her family.
"The people who taught me how to fail, how to love, how to hold an award, how to lose, my parents. I’m so thankful that God chose you to bring me into this world. To my sisters, my sister Delores, who’s here who played Jaji and Jaja with me, we were rich white women in the tea party games. Thank you for the imagination and to my husband and my daughter, my heart, you and Genesis, you teach me every day how to live, how to love. I’m so glad you are the foundation of my life."
After her speech, Davis celebrated by sharing an adorable picture of her family and kicking off her heels backstage, changing into a pair of red platform sneakers.
Backstage, she continued her inspired speech-making, reflecting on her past. "I grew up in poverty. I grew up in apartments that were condemned and rat-infested and I always sort of wanted to be somebody. I wanted to be good at something. This is sort of like the miracle of God. Of dreaming big. Just hoping it sticks and it lands and it did," she said. "Who knew?”
And, on the topic of being a black woman, Davis delivered these empowering words: "I love that I can go back and look at stories of women that have gone before me ... seemingly should have not survived and they did. I love my skin, I love my voice, I love my history. Sometimes I don’t love being the spokesperson all the time. So be it. That’s the way that go, right? But at 51, I’m sort of loving me!"
With her win Sunday night Davis is one step closer to winning a storied EGOT. With Emmy, Oscar and Tony wins under her belt, all she needs is a Grammy.
Contributing: Carly Mallenbaum
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