Why Viola Davis' Emmy Acceptance Speech applies to WOC of all professions
As you may know, Viola Davis made history Sunday night at the 67th Emmy Awards by winning the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series award. Her acceptance speech was nothing short of inspirational and truthful. The memorable statement "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity" has been engraved in my memory. Now I’m no actress nor am I trying to be, but I am a Black woman navigating a career path where Black women are definitely under represented in the workforce. I am not saying that they do not exist just that in my experience when I walk into a studio to be interviewed or when I'm looking up studios to learn about, we are missing as creative contributors.
Again this takes me back to a presentation DreamWorks made at SVA three years ago when a recruiter said that maybe "minorities" aren't that interested in applying for work in studios. Clearly she misspoke and was not paying attention to the (although few but sprinkled) brown faces and varying shades of non white faces in the audience that day. It is not that we are not interested, I see more and more brown and Black faces in the BFA Computer Art program at SVA than ever. Any school that offers 3D/ VFX has the diversity studios lack and that should be a concern. What happens to us?
Now I would like to believe that pursuing a career in the animation and VFX industry is not the same as pursuing an acting career as a Black woman. However, I do think about how I was the only Black female in my major for 3 out of my 4 years in college and the only Black female in my graduating class of my major. I think about the small group of Black girls I befriended from the traditional animation department and how roughly only 1-2 of us are actually working in the industry, how the rest of us have become artrepreneurs in our own right.
In my pursuit of being an Animation Producer/Director I know the ONLY thing in my way is truly a lack of opportunity. I'm not complaining or begging for a chance. Like everyone else I network, I commit fully to all employment and/or volunteer opportunities because I know that while it may not ideally line up with where I'm headed I can effectively contribute to these positions while I learn from the experiences they have to offer. It is my dream to provide Black girls that love animation, cartoons and want to create the very opportunities that I wish were available to me. Viola Davis' speech was reminder to how we have to help one another, find one another, support and uplift one another. Shonda Rhimes created an opportunity for Viola and look what has come of it. When one Black woman succeeds in the face of adversity, she makes it possible for the rest of us.
Thank you Viola. Thank you for never giving up on yourself and letting your determination and passion for the craft indefinitely inspire us all.
| Watch Viola's acceptance speech |