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Viola Davis on Diverse Female Roles: "We Have to Keep Pushing the Button"

The history-making Emmy winner knows the work is not done

Joyce Eng

Viola Davis made history last year when she became the first African-American actress to win the drama lead actress Emmy, for her work on How to Get Away with Murder. She gave a speech for the ages, saying that the only thing separating women of color from anybody else is "opportunity." "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there," Davis, who's nominated again this year, said at the time.

A year later -- and two years after first embodying the unflinchingly complicated, unlikable and empathetic Annalise Keating on Murder -- the two-time Oscar nominee is grateful to be at the forefront of the change. But she knows that the work is by no means done when it comes to pushing the limits the industry has tacitly placed on minorities and women.
Check out our complete Emmy Awards coverage here

"Whenever ... I see a black woman come onto the screen, she's the bus driver, she's the authoritative teacher, she's the wise-cracking best friend," Davis tells TVGuide.com. "I'm always thinking, 'Who is she? Does she have a husband? What's her secret in life? Is she in love? Did she have sex this morning?' And by the time I've answered all those questions, she's gone.

"I think right now we're in a golden age of TV where that's just not the case," she continues. "I think that is what's changed and I think we have to keep pushing the button."

Watch the full video above.

Season 3 of How to Get Away with Murder premieres Thursday, Sept. 22 at 10/9c on ABC. The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on ABC.