Will SAG Awards champ Viola Davis be first African American to win Drama Actress at Emmys? (Poll)


Viola Davis became just the second African American to win Best TV Drama Actress at the SAG Awards, claiming the prize Sunday for her starring role in "How to Get Away with Murder." The first to break through the color barrier was Chandra Wilson, a featured player on "Grey's Anatomy," who won this award in 2006. (SAG does not differentiate between lead and supporting on the TV side).

However, Wilson was unable to parlay this victory into an Emmy, despite four consecutive bids in the Supporting Actress category. She lost in 2005 and 2006 to Blythe Danner ("Huff"), in 2007 to co-star Katherine Heigl and in 2008 to Dianne Wiest ("In Treatment").

While four African American women have won that Emmy race — Gail Fisher ("Mannix," 1970); Alfre Woodard ("Hill Street Blues," 1983), Madge Sinclair ("Gabriel's Fire," 1991) and Mary Alice ("I'll Fly Away," 1993) — none has ever prevailed for Best Drama Actress.  

Editors' SAG Awards slugfest: What we loved (Eddie Redmayne) and hated (no-shows)

Both Davis and Wilson are in hit ABC shows produced by Shonda Rhimes. That prolific powerhouse is also responsible for "Scandal," a political drama on the alphabet net that showcases Kerry Washington. We expected that she would be the one to finally end the Emmy shut-out for African American women in this category but she lost, first to Claire Danes ("Homeland") in 2013 and then last year to Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife"). 

Prior to Washington, only four African American women had been nominated for this top TV prize: 

Debbie Allen ("Fame")
1982; lost to Michael Learned ("Nurse")
1983: lost to Tyne Daly ("Cagney & Lacey")
1984: lost to Tyne Daly ("Cagney & Lacey")
1985: lost to Tyne Daly ("Cagney & Lacey")

Alfred Woodard ("St. Elsewhere")
1986: lost to Sharon Gless ("Cagney & Lacey")

Regina Taylor ("I'll Fly Away")
1992: lost to Dana Delany ("China Beach")
1993: lost to Kathy Baker ("Picket Fences") 

Cicely Tyson ("Sweet Justice")
1995: lost to Kathy Baker ("Picket Fences") 

All of these nominations but for Tyson's predated the SAG Awards. She contended at the inaugural awards in 1994 for "Sweet Justice" but lost to Baker. Supporting player Della Reese ("Touched By an Angel") lost at SAG in 1995 to Gillian Anderson ("The X-Files") and in 1996 to Julianna Marguiles ("ER"). She also lost her Emmy bids in 1997 (to Kim Delaney, "NYPD Blue") and 1998 (to Camryn Mannheim, "The Practice"). 

SAG Awards reactions: A play-by-play from our bitchy forums

Do you think that Viola Davis will win the Emmy? Vote in our poll below and sound off in the comments section.

11 thoughts on “Will SAG Awards champ Viola Davis be first African American to win Drama Actress at Emmys? (Poll)

  1. I hope Viola Davis wins an Emmy,but the way the television academy thinks that might not happen,but I hope it does.The same for Kevin Spacey.

  2. Truthfully, Viola could pick ANY of the season 1 episodes; all of them are worthy and amazingly showcase her work. She should win and will; Margulies, Danes, can’t win anymore, and Ruth Wilson isn’t particularly strong enough prevail, neither is Tatiana, and Kerry will probably be shoved aside this year, maybe for Taraji P. Henson of EMPIRE?

  3. Theories show that monologues and speeches can help you win, (see: Jeff Daniels, or any actor in an Aaron Sorkin series)… If so, the courtroom scene in Episode 6 wins it all for her.

  4. Viola is great and she’s respected. She probably will win, but I’ve been blown away by Ruth Wilson in The Affair. I’ll be pulling for her, but I’ll be proud if Viola gets it.

  5. Viola is a slam dunk nominee. Watching Viola in HTGAWM Season 1 is much like Julianna Margulies in Season 5 of The Good Wife, a lot of character development and meaty scenes, but never all in one episode. Of course the season isn’t over, so lets so if it can concentrate into a tape. I can’t wait to see what they do with her and Cicely Tyson on screen, that could be a tape right there. Even if it doesn’t materialise, a sprawl of good scenes didn’t hurt Margulies either…

  6. Making the comment that Margulies and Danes can’t win anymore is really just wishful thinking. Both actresses are turning in their best performances to date, and considering the Emmys LOVE to repeat/reward past winners (Jim Parson – BBT, Candice Bergen – Murphy Brown, Allison Janey – West Wing). It is an incredibly tough category, Viola Davis will be lucky to get a nomination.

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