Monday, September 21, 2015

67th Emmy Awards -- Best Actress Viola Davis

How to Get Away with Crossing the Line:

When I saw Ms. Davis acceptance speech for the 67th Emmy Awards I was awed.  The roles of the world as we know it are changing.  One of my mentors told me that when you write at a higher scholastic level you must say what you are going to write about; then outline it in a way that is simple and brief; then say what you said you were going to say; and say it; and then repeat what you said.  I think for the first time I disagree with my mentor.  I think one just needs to listen to Ms. Davis narrative.  She allows you to flow into her imagination and then brings you into her world while still allowing you to have your own imagination.  If you saw the speech at the awards ceremony you might notice that her speech started off whimsically
and then it became a bit unnerved as I noticed an celebrity audience member present as uncomfortable.  that is the gift of the storyteller.  A true artist stirs the waters and a rumble happens.  It can be a pretty circular movement of pebbles or it can be a tsunami.  Ms. Davis is skilled in her craft.  As a messenger.  But the resolution of her words were impacting; educatory; and non threatening:  BECAUSE SHE HAD ARRIVED.  She did threaten the old social order but when you are in .... you can voice ... Ms. Davis of African descent is our griotte from Julliard who happens to have just gotten away with murder!  She most probably would not have said her speech 30 years ago.  But the gods of Olympus have paved the way for this heroine (or is it now correct to say hero) to say something at a time that it will not be dismissed.  If she has said this 30 years ago she most probably would never have worked again and the show would have suddenly been "cancelled" due to poor ratings (said another way -- the networks would have been told to cancel the show by the corporations).  But today?  There is hope.  Moreover, you might challenge yourself to un-layer the meaning of Vanessa Williams re-capturing her crown as Miss America just last week.  Although it might seem socially sophomoric there is an intense define of the ill that is placed on women-of-color, and notably Black women in this country.  Vanessa Williams as the first Miss America-of-color does blend into the themes of Ms. Davis speech and the plight and struggle that are present today and even 30 years ago. 

Here are Ms. Davis words: 

"In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line." That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So, here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes. People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black. And to the Taraji P. Hensons and Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goodes, to Gabrielle Union. Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you for the Television Academy. Thank you." 

Read more about Dr. Strayhorn's practice and philosophy...

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