Viola Davis Is The First Black Woman To Win 5 SAG Awards

Photo: David Livingston/Getty.
When Viola Davis took home the award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role at last night’s SAG Awards, she made history. It was Davis’ fifth honor by the guild, and she is the first Black woman to win so many.

Davis is a pretty well-decorated actor with a career spanning over 20 years. A couple of those awards are historic in their own right. In 2010, she became only the second Black woman to win a Tony. And in 2015, she was the first Black person to win an Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series Emmy for playing Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder.

As Davis crosses another historic milestone for Black women, I can’t help but think of her 2015 Emmy's acceptance speech, when she talked about opportunity as the only thing separating her from her white counterparts. "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there," she said. And it's true. How many more awards would she have if these words didn't ring true?

I’m already preparing myself for a Davis snub at the Oscars, even after all of their “historic changes” and record numbers of Black nominees this year, because we still have a way to go. Her SAG wins prove that the guild created for actors to honor their peers is doing a better job at championing diversity than some older awards institutions.

But if we can learn nothing else from Davis and her inspirational speeches, it's that awards are only reflective of who is invited to have a seat at the table in the first place.
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