VIDEO: Viola Davis at SAG Awards: 'Diversity Is Not A Trending Topic'
"We have become a society of trending topics" acclaimed actor Viola Davis explained backstage after being presented with her second consecutive Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series SAG Award for her work in HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER. "Diversity is not a trending topic. It's just not."
"I've always considered myself an actor since I got my equity card in 1988. I've never put any limitations on myself. I felt like I can play Chekhov; any character in Chekhov. in Shakespeare, in Miller, in August Wilson."
Before television stardom, Davis collected a shelfful of honors as a New York stage actor, beginning with a Theatre World Award for her Broadway debut in August Wilson's SEVEN GUITARS and an Obie for playing rape and Jim Crow target Ruby McCollum in Thulani Davis' EVERYBODY'S RUBY. Her two additional Broadway appearances, Wilson's KING HEDLEY II and FENCES, both earned her Tonys and Drama Desk Awards and in between she was handed another Drama Desk and an additional Obie for Lynn Nottage's INTIMATE APPARAL.
But despite such acclaim and steady work, her stage credits include no Chekhov and no Miller. Aside from being cast in Shakespeare's PERICLES and AS YOU LIKE IT by the diversity-minded Public Theater, Davis has been exclusively seen on stage in roles specified as African-American women.
He poignant and inspiring remarks assure listeners that she and other actors of color will not accept limitations and will always "find a way to be excellent."