Viola Davis: 'My Story Deserves to Be Told'

"I want to be in the story," the first-time Emmy nominee tells PEOPLE

Photo: Williams & Hirakawa

Bedtime stories at Viola Davis‘ home always star the same heroine: her preschool-age daughter Genesis, 4.

“She says, ‘Make the princess me. Let it be me,’ ” Davis tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s latest issue. “That’s what happens when you’re young. Then something happens where you realize, ‘They don’t see me that way.’ ”

But the two-time Academy Award nominee, 50, refuses to let go of that childlike desire.

“I want to be in the story,” says the first-time Emmy nominee. “I think I deserve to be in that story, and I believe my story deserves to be told.”

RELATED VIDEO: Viola Davis Had a Strange Fan Encounter in a Restroom

And now, as embattled law professor Annalise Keating on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, the nominee for outstanding lead actress in a drama feels she’s been given a role that’s a “stepping stone in taking people out of their comfort zone” of how they see black women.

“She’s not a cartoon cutout,” she says of the “hypersexual antiheroine” character. “She’s a mess and she’s nothing that someone who looks like me has played before. I think, win or lose [at the Emmys], that’s a step in the right direction.”

For more on Viola Davis and more of this year’s Emmy-nominated actresses, including exclusive portraits, pick up the latest of PEOPLE

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