Viola Davis wins two NAACP Image awards for final season of ‘HTGAWM,’ ‘Ma Rainey’

In her speeches, Davis called HTGAWM the 'ride of her life' and gave a heartfelt shoutout to the late Chadwick Boseman

Viola Davis scored big at the 2021 NAACP Image Awards, winning two prizes for her roles in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and How To Get Away with Murder.

How To Get Away With Murder said a final goodbye to its fans when it aired its series finale in May 2020. The show was an immediate success for ABC when its premiered in 2014, and Viola Davis, a legend of the stage and screen herself, burst through the culture with role of Annalise Keating.

In her first season alone, Davis broke records, becoming the first African American woman to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

In this screengrab, Julius Tennon and Viola Davis, winner of Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture categories speak at the 52nd NAACP Image Awards Virtual Press Conference on March 27, 2021 in Various Cities. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)

Read More: Viola Davis makes history as most Oscar-nominated Black actress

Now, in her final year of eligibility, Davis has won an NAACP Image Award for that special Shondaland role. In a gorgeous purple and pink dress, Davis jumped for joy as she heard her name announced as the winner.

The actress referred to How To Get Away with Murder as “the joy of her life” in her acceptance speech, saying, “Oh my God! Thank you Pete Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, the beautiful cast of How To Get Away With Murder…it was the joy and journey of my life to go on this ride with you.”

She then thanked series creator Nowalk and Rhimes again, this time for changing the landscape of television, saying, “Thank you for redefining what it means to be a leading lady, what it means to be a woman, what it means to be Black on network television…thank you for the ride of my life!”

Davis then won the Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture award for her role in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In her speech, Davis said, “Thank you so much! Thank you August Wilson, thank you for honoring us with your ‘Century Cycle’ of plays. Thank you for loving us…thank you for leaving this legacy.”

Davis also thanked the entire team behind Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and gave a special shoutout to her co-star, the late Chadwick Boseman, saying, “And to the beautiful Chadwick Boseman, I love you Chad!”

As How to Get Away With Murder‘s smash run came to a close in 2020, Davis caught up with theGrio’s Cortney Wills to discuss saying goodbye to Annalise Keating. She revealed at the time, “I’m sad about leaving behind Annalise. She’s tugging at me. It’s such a dynamic character and she’s an unpredictable character and variety is the spice of life and she sort of put a lot of variety in my life. It’s sort of like jumping out of a plane.”

Read More: Viola Davis shows off curly afro for Critics’ Choice Awards

In the interview, she also opened up about the importance of characters like Annalise Keating in Hollywood. She explained, “Her lasting legacy is, I feel like the leading lady was re-defined with Annalise. The leading lady in the past was definitely not defined as being a dark-skinned, Black woman who is of a certain age. Re-defining women as the anti-hero. We don’t all necessarily have to be warm and fuzzy.”

She added, “She’s someone without boundaries. In the past, Black women have not been written like that. They have been very tethered.”

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