Oscars flashback: Viola Davis wins for ‘Fences,’ celebrates ‘what it means to live a life’ in emotional speech [WATCH]

The last time Viola Davis was nominated for an Oscar, she won. It was just over four years ago — February 26, 2017, to be exact — in the category of Best Supporting Actress for playing housewife Rose Maxson in “Fences” (2016). When her name was called, Davis walked up to the podium in her scarlet red Armani gown and spoke about the importance of the entertainment industry at large. “I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life,” she proclaimed. Watch the emotional Oscars flashback video above. We’re not crying — you’re crying!

“Fences” was adapted for the big screen by the late August Wilson, based on his heralded play. “Here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people,” David declared in her acceptance speech. As for Denzel Washington, whom Davis referred to as “oh captain, my captain,” he directed and starred in the motion picture that earned four total Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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Davis’ co-nominees that year were Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), Nicole Kidman (“Lion”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) and Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”). It was actually her third Oscar nomination overall after losing for “Doubt” (supporting actress, 2008) and “The Help” (lead actress, 2011).

Now, all eyes on whether Davis can take home another Academy Award, this time in Best Actress, for her role as the titular 1920s blues singer in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Davis competes against Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”), Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) and Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) when the 2021 ceremony airs Sunday, April 25 on ABC.

Much has been made about this year’s truly unpredictable Best Actress category, as four of these Oscar rivals have prevailed at the four recent precursor awards. Day claimed the Golden Globe, Mulligan won the Critics Choice, Davis earned the SAG and McDormand took the BAFTA. Are Davis and Day at a disadvantage since their films aren’t nominated for Best Picture? “Ma Rainey” is, however, up for five total awards: Best Actor (Chadwick Boseman), Best Actress, Best Production Design, Best Makeup & Hairstyling and Best Costume Design.

Here’s a transcript of Viola Davis’ acceptance speech for “Fences” from the 2017 Oscars ceremony:

Thank you to the academy. You know, there’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place 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. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. 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 exalted the ordinary people. And to Bron Pictures, Paramount, Macro, Todd Black, Molly Allen, Scott Rudin for being the cheerleaders for a movie that is about people and words and life and forgiveness and grace. And to Mykelti Williamson, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby, Jovan Adepo, Saniyya Sidney for being the most wonderful artists I’ve ever worked with. And oh captain, my captain, Denzel Washington, thank you for putting two entities in the driving seat: August and God. They served you well.

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