We have all seen the popular #WomanCrushWednesday hashtag thrown over social media, attached to celebrities’ most glamorous photos or a picture posted by an admiring significant other. My #WomanHeroMonthly is a new and empowering take on the hashtag! Women heroes are celebrities who use their platform to stand up for our rights as women and speak out against injustices. This is important because celebrities are often times accused of not being relatable or in touch with today’s issues. The few bold enough to stand up and say their opinion – not as a business or brand, but as a person – are inspiring to me.
This month’s #WomanHeroMonthly is actress Viola Davis, not only for being the first black woman to win an Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series, but for addressing the lack of roles available to black women in Hollywood in her acceptance speech. Although Davis won her Emmy for her portrayal of Annalise Keating on ‘How to Get Away with Murder,’ she is no stranger to the screen, starring in films such as ‘The Help’, ‘Eat Pray Love’, ‘ Get on Up’, among many others.
In her acceptance speech, she touches on being close enough to be embraced by white actresses, but hardly is ever put in the positions that they are. She quoted Harriet Tubman stating: ‘In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ She states there isn’t a lack of talented black actresses in Hollywood, it’s the lack of roles (especially lead roles) available that give them opportunity to shine. I understood where she was coming from, there is only so many times that black actresses can be type cast as the sassy black friend or the dutiful housekeeper who knows more about what’s going on with the kids than the wife does.
While Viola speaking out against the lack of diversity doesn’t create new roles, for the few minutes she had our attention she used her victory to provoke thought about the last time we saw a black actress in a lead role, and the silence spoke volumes. Viola is my woman hero this month because she uses the roles that she do get to make an impact in every community she embodies, is assisting in the redefinition of what it means to be “beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black”, and can do all of that looking absolutely stunning every time.
Women’s Center Staff