Viola Davis Reveals Why She Chose Harriet Tubman Quote for Historic Emmy Win Speech (Video)

“I did want to mark the fact that it was the first African-American to win in the Lead Actress category,” the “How to Get Away With Murder” star tells Ellen DeGeneres during her first post-awards appearance

Last Updated: September 24, 2015 @ 7:45 AM

Viola Davis not only won an Emmy on Sunday, she may have won the Emmys.

The history-making “How to Get Away With Murder” actress was a guest on the Thursday episode of “Ellen” — her first public appearance since taking home the Outstanding Lead Actress Trophy.

Davis, who became the first Black actress to win in the category, told Ellen DeGeneres that she “sort of” prepared her victory speech.

“I did want to mark the fact that it was the first African-American to win in the Lead Actress category,” she said. “I love that Harriet Tubman quote, I thought it was so progressive and I started it, and my husband said afterwards: ‘V, I didn’t know where you were going with that. I really didn’t. When you were saying those white women with their arms stretched out over the line I was like what is she doing?'”

“I was too for a minute,” DeGeneres quipped.

At the beginning of her emotional speech, the Shondaland star quoted the 19th-century abolitionist and humanitarian.

“‘In my mind, I see a line,'” Davis said. “‘And over that line I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me to get over that line but I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s.”

“The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity,” Davis continued her terrific speech.

Back on “Ellen,” Davis admitted that she had a few glasses of prosecco before the show. That probably helped loosen the whole thing up a bit.

Watch the video above and TheWrap’s interview with Viola Davis on the set of our cover shoot before the Emmys below.

See TheWrap Magazine Emmy Issue cover story with Viola Davis here:

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