SAG Awards 2015: Viola Davis on diversity: ‘We want to see ourselves’

Viola Davis, backstage at the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards, called for more diversity in Hollywood casting.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

When Viola Davis went onstage Sunday during the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards to accept her award for female actor in a drama series, the 49-year-old African American actress couldn’t hide the emotion.

With her role as high-profile law professor Annalise Keating on “How to Get Away With Murder,” Davis has been credited with diversifying the portrayal of women on television. And, she said backstage at the SAG Awards, it’s roles like these that are necessary in Hollywood.



“The sexualized, messy, outwardly strong, inwardly vulnerable women I know in my life are anywhere from Size 0 to 24,” she said. “They do exist in life. To me, that’s where you can find the expansiveness of stories.

“We want to see ourselves. We want to be inspired by that. I sometimes want the fantasy, but more often than not, I want reality. I want to feel less alone when I look at TV.”

As an inspiration, she credited Cicely Tyson, who was nominated for female actor in a television movie or miniseries for her role in “The Trip to Bountiful.”

“She was the first actress where I saw craft, the magic of transformation,” Davis said.