Q&A: Emmys 2015: Viola Davis makes Emmy history

Viola Davis in "How to Get Away With Murder." She is nominated in the Emmys' lead actress in a drama category.

Viola Davis in “How to Get Away With Murder.” She is nominated in the Emmys’ lead actress in a drama category.

(Mitchell Haaseth / ABC )

Viola Davis made history Thursday as one of two African American women – along with “Empire’s” Taraji P. Henson – to earn nods in the same year for lead actress in a drama series. If she wins in September, it will be the first time, ever, that an an African American woman takes home the Emmy in that top category. But the star of ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder” took it all in stride when reached at home shortly after the 67th annual Emmy nominations were announced.

Where were you when you got the good news?

I’m at home, having a relaxing day. We start shooting the show on Monday. But for now, this is a little bit of rare downtime. I was sitting in my Jacuzzi -- I’m a little bored with saying that because I am always sitting in there – but that’s where I was, and my publicist called me. And then I had a big conversation with my husband.

FULL COVERAGE: Emmy nominations


Did it come as a surprise at all?

You know, it’s always a surprise when you get nominated. As an actor, you just never know how your work is going to land. Even when you feel great about it, you question it. As an artist, you’re always surprised by the outcome; and then you’re always honored. I’m in rarefied air, meaning: I’m a working actor on this level and working with great people and in great company – all of that is fabulous.

There’s a lot of talk about the Emmys inching toward more diversity – what are your thoughts about this?

I always feel that art should reflect life – and it has not always done that. It’s reflected a very homogenous part of life. But we’re now in a very global world and art can’t be homogenous anymore. I loved “The Brady Bunch” when I was growing up; but life, families, people, we know more now. People of color should be included in the narrative. And people are finally getting that.


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Kerry Washington was nominated in the lead actress category in 2013 and 2014 for “Scandal”; were you surprised she was overlooked this year?

I love Kerry; she’s a friend of mine. I have great respect for her work. You never know who’s gonna be nominated, whose name is gonna be checked off. At the end of the day, you can’t take it personally. It’s not a reflection of the actor’s work. I think everyone would agree Kerry is enormously talented with or without an Emmy.

Do you watch any of the other shows that were nominated in your category – or do you have any favorites that weren’t recognized this year?


I don’t watch anything! I’ll be lucky if I catch my own show, with my schedule. Actually, I always watch a little of everything – and I have great respect for everything in my category. I do watch “Game of Thrones,” but only because you can watch it on a plane when flying back and forth from Toronto. I’ve been shooting a movie there – “Suicide Squad.” @debvankin