Viola Davis's Emotional Acceptance Speech Strikes A Chord At The BAFTAs

Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage
After winning the Best Supporting Actress prize at tonight's BAFTAs for her performance in Fences, Viola Davis delivered what was surely the night's most emotional speech.

Addressing the audience at London's Royal Albert Hall, the actress explained that working on Fences had helped her to gain perspective on her father's death. The film, adapted from August Wilson's play about a working-class African-American family living in '50s Pittsburgh, had shown her the true value of ordinary lives.

"You know, my father groomed horses at the racetrack and he had a fifth grade education, and he was a janitor towards the end of his life, when he died of cancer at a McDonald's," Davis began.

"And 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?' August answers that question so brilliantly, because what he did is he said that our lives mattered as African Americans."

Davis continued: "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 history books, they have a story; and those stories deserve to be told, because they lived."

Watch the full, moving speech below.
La La Land won the Best Film prize at tonight's BAFTA Awards, while its star Emma Stone was named Best Actress. Casey Affleck received the Best Actor accolade for his performance in Manchester by the Sea, and Dev Patel collected the Best Supporting Actor trophy for Lion.
Advertisement