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Why Viola Davis’ Emmy Win Is a Victory for All Actresses of Color

Watch her powerful speech

Liz Raftery

When Viola Davis' name was called as the recipient of the Best Actress in a Drama award at Sunday's Emmys, anyone watching the broadcast may have thought Taraji P. Henson actually won. Henson leapt out of her seat and gave her fellow nominee a giant bear hug.

And, in a sense, Davis' victory was a shared one - she is the first black woman to ever win a Best Actress Emmy.

In her speech, Davis thanked Henson, Kerry Washington, Halle Berry and other actresses of color. "Thank you for taking us over that line," the How to Get Away with Murder star said, in reference to a Harriet Tubman quote with which she began her speech.

Emmys 2015: See the complete list of winners

"The only thing that separates women of color from anything else is opportunity," Davis said. "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."

Davis credited Shonda Rhimes and Murder showrunner Peter Nowalk with redefining "what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black."

Watch Davis' speech here: