Viola Davis on Getting Political at Awards Shows: It's 'Everyone's Duty to Speak Out Against Political Injustice'

Davis said she welcomes the political turn this year's award season has taken

Dave Benett/Getty
Photo: Dave Benett/Getty

Stars have been voicing their opinions about the strained political situation in the U.S. throughout this year’s awards season — and the BAFTA Awards may be no different.

With many celebrities using their acceptance speeches to send out strong messages, Viola Davis said the political turn on awards shows is both necessary and welcome.

“I feel great about it,” she said while walking the red carpet Sunday in London. “I feel like it’s everyone duty and privilege to speak out against political injustice.”

The actress took home the BAFTA award for best supporting actress for her role as a 1950s Pittsburgh housewife in Fences. After briefly forgetting her fellow nominees — and hilariously dropping the S-bomb — as she spoke onstage, the actress took on a more serious tone and paid tribute to her late father.

“You know my father was a groom for horses at the racetrack and he had a fifth-grade education. He was a janitor towards the end of his life when he died of cancer at McDonalds,” she shared. “The reason why I say that is when he took his last breath, one of the most devastating things that went through my mind is, ‘Did his life matter?’ And all of this answers that question so brilliantly because what he did is he said that our lives mattered as African-Americans: the horse groomer, the sanitation worker, the people who grew up under the heavy boot of Jim Crow. The people who did not make it into the history books. But they have a story, and those stories deserve to be told because they lived.”

Davis previously took home a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s play. She is also up for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar this year.

But Davis said her awards-season success still hasn’t sunk in.

“It’s exciting, shocking, surprising,” she said earlier on the BAFTAs red carpet. “I’m having the best time. Whenever I come to London, I feel I’ve been invited to the best party. I’m always surprised I’m invited to this.”

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