Viola Davis thought she needed to lose weight for HTGWM role

Viola Davis has become the face of Black girl realness, using every opportunity she has to speak on the reality of being a Black woman in Hollywood who doesn’t fall into the “conventional” ideal of beauty.

Just last night Davis was honored at the Critics’ Choice Awards with the first-ever #SeeHer award, “an honor that recognized her work furthering the portrayal of three-dimensional women onscreen,” USA Today noted. And in receiving the feminist honor, Davis nervously told the crowd: “It’s hard to accept being a role model for women when you’re trying to lose weight.”

While the crowd may have thought that was just a joke, Davis told the crowd, “It’s true,” between laughter as she added:

“I’ve always discovered the heart of my characters, I guess, by asking ‘Why?’ When I was handed 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.’ And then I asked myself, ‘Well, why do I have to do all of that?’”

“I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, and I just recently embraced that at 51,” Davis shared confidently. “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, and you sit and you experience. And I think that’s the only power I have as an artist, so I thank you for this award.”

Watch Viola Davis’ acceptance speech for the #SeeHer award below. Last night she also won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences.