— and ears — were on Viola Davis at the 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday night.
Not only did Davis win Best Supporting Actress for her part in “Fences,” she also received the first-ever #SeeHer award. The new award is sponsored by the National Association of Advertisers and advocates for realistic portrayals of women in the media.
After accepting the honor from fellow actress Amy Adams, Davis went on to deliver a powerful speech about body image and self-love — and it was exactly what we all needed to hear.
In her speech, Davis revealed that she struggled her entire life with self-acceptance.
"I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are," she said. "And I just recently embraced that at 51."
After years of insecurity, the actress finally learned to love herself. She wants other women to also find confidence, but she confessed it's difficult to feel like a good example when she has actively changed her body to fit particular roles.
Davis admitted, "It's hard to accept being a role model for women when you're trying to lose weight."
Davis went into detail about the pressure she's felt from the entertainment industry to look a certain way:
When I was handed [my 'How to Get Away With Murder' role] Annalise Keating, I said, 'She's sexy, she's mysterious.' I'm used to playing women where I've got to gain 40 pounds and wear an apron. So I said, 'Oh God, I've got to lose weight. I've got to learn how to walk like Kerry Washington in heels. I gotta lose my belly.'
But the actress quickly realized that she doesn't have to change for anybody; she's perfect just the way she is.
"Then I asked myself, 'Well, why do I have to do all of that?'" she continued, later adding, "I think my strongest power is that at 10 o'clock every Thursday night, I want you to come into my world. I am not going to come into yours. You come into my world and you sit with me, my size, my hue, my age."
She plans to continue to defy the rigid expectations Hollywood places on women.
"I think that's the only power I have as an artist," Davis concluded. "So I thank you for this award."
Davis is the type of body-positive role model that the entertainment industry desperately needs.
We definitely #SeeHer and appreciate her realness.