Viola Davis made history when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
It made her the first black woman to ever win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award. Previously, Davis won an Emmy for her role in How To Get Away With Murder, and a Tony for her performance in the Broadway adaptation of Fences in 2010.
Meanwhile it was the third time the Fences star was nominated for an Academy Award, previously picking up a Best Actress nomination for The Help (2011), and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Doubt (2008). It was her role as Rose Lee Maxson has finally won her the award.
Davis triumphed over Naomie Harris for Moonlight, Nicole Kidman for Lion, Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures and Michelle Williams for Manchester by the Sea.
In an emotional acceptance speech, Davis said: “Thank you to the Academy. There’s one place where all the people with the greatest potential are gathered, and that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost.”
Referring to the playwright behind Fences, she added: “I became an artist and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exulted the ordinary people.”
Davis also paid tribute to her co-star Denzel Washington with a quote from Dead Poets Society: “Oh captain my captain.”
The actress was a shoo-in for the prize, having already scooped up a Golden Globe, a SAG Award and a BAFTA for her role.
In Fences, Davis plays a devoted wife and mother who tries to support her son’s ambitions in the face of sometimes savage derision from her husband Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington, nominated for Best Actor).
The film is based on the play by August Wilson, and is also up for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The 89th Academy Awards took place at a star-studded Hollywood ceremony on Sunday night, with Jimmy Kimmel serving as host for the first time in his career.