Viola Davis wins best supporting actress at SAG Awards, honors August Wilson: 'We deserve to be in the canon'
Viola Davis has won her fifth Screen Actors Guild Award.
The Fences star took home the award for best supporting actress for her role as a 1950s Pittsburgh housewife in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s play.
“I could do a laundry list of all the people to thank,” Davis said in accepting the award, calling out to director and star Denzel Washington, her other costars, and her family. Davis also paid special honor to playwright August Wilson, who wrote Fences in 1983.
“They say maybe all one can hope for is the right regrets. What August did so beautifully is he honored the average man. Who happened to be a man of color,” Davis said. “Sometimes we don’t need to shape the world … the fact that we breathed and lived a life and was a god to our children, just that means we have a story and it deserves to be told. We deserve to be in the canon, in the center of any narrative that’s written out there. And that’s what August did. He elevated my father, my mother, uncles, who had 8th and 5th-grade educations. He just encapsulated them in history. So thank you, August.”
Davis has long been seen as a frontrunner for the Oscar for best supporting actress, and this SAG win only shores up her chances at next month’s Academy Awards. She previously won best actress in a drama series for How to Get Away with Murder two years in a row, as well as best actress for The Help. (She also won as part of the ensemble for The Help.)
In the best supporting actress category, Davis beat out Nicole Kidman for Lion, Naomie Harris for Moonlight, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures, and Michelle Williams for Manchester by the Sea. Backstage, Davis was asked about the diversity of her category — as the same five actresses are nominated for Oscars at next month’s ceremony.
“I think that every nominee from Naomie Harris to Octavia Spencer to Hidden Figures to Fences to Moonlight to Mahershala Ali are there because they deserve to be there,” Davis said when asked about this year being a response to #OscarsSoWhite. “They’re not there because of the color of their skin. They put in the work. So the answer to that is no, and you know, my response from here on out… I always use the three words. Feb. 26 is going to come, ‘and now what?’ Is it just going to be a trend to talk about inclusion? And I’d rather say inclusion than diversity. Or is it going to be a norm that we understand, that we’re all part of the narrative, that all of our stories deserve to be told and that art has indeed has to reflect life in our culture, and people are going to demand it? That’s where we’re at. We’re not the Brady Bunch anymore. We’re Black-ish. We’re Fresh Off the Boat. We’re Jane the Virgin. We’re Stranger Things. We’re a hodgepodge of cultures and races and sexes and sexualities.”
Davis was one of three actors of color to win film honors on Sunday night, including her Fences costar Denzel Washington and Mahershala Ali for Moonlight. Hidden Figures, about three black women who helped NASA launch the space program, also won on Sunday night, for best ensemble.