Very few times does an Award show leave a stamp on my mind. Yes there have been speeches that have moved me to tears but there is something so poignant about the Emmys 2015.
Viola Davis made history as the first black actress to win the Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role as lawyer Annaliese (Anna Mae to her mama) Keating in How To Get Away With Murder. She opened her speech by quoting Harriet Tubman, she went further to challenge the creators out there, to create roles like the ones Shonda is creating of smart, brilliant, career driven, bosses in their own rights for black women because darn it there is a plethora of us out there making it. She also made sure to shout out all the leading black actresses that are on our screens – Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington, Meagan Good, Nicole Beharie, Taraji P. Henson – all shows I watch one because they’re great and most importantly because of this loyalty I have, this loyalty that comes from having melanin and wanting those show to stay on air, because little brown girls growing up the world over need to see faces that are like them on their screens.
The sense of sisterhood, the sense of pride, ‘Umoja’ ( Swahili for unity or the spirit of togetherness ) emanated through and could be felt when watching Taraji.
Taraji’s reactions to her girls winning touched a part of me because she was here for her crew, the gasp she made, and that loud ecstatic ‘Yess’ she when her girl Regina King won. Even though she was nominated in the same category as Viola, when Viola won she got up from her seat, kissed her girl and clapped with a face full of pride. Kerry Washington was in tears as Viola gave the most emotive monumental speech .
Watching these women crying because their peer had won, instead of being in a ‘it-should-have-been-me’ state of mind. That show of sisterhood we saw, wasn’t isolated to the Emmy’s it was a message that echoed world over, letting black women everywhere around the globe know that we can cheer for each other, we can root louder for our fellow sister because we are united in this. Knowing that your girls are rooting for, they are cheering for you because your win is in as much as a collective win is such a great motivator, such a great show of Umoja, and a message to say
‘We are in this together, we go through the struggle together and we win together’.
I have to say the Black Hollywood actresses should all have a picture right next to Umoja – these women cheer each other from Ava cheering Shonda on Thursdays, to Shonda shouting out Mara Brock Akil on Tuesdays when Being Mary Jane is on our screens to Gabrielle Union shouting out Sanaa Lathan’s latest movie – all standing together, letting the world know ‘A team is us’.
This advert was also another memorable highlight. It was created by the Apple Music team who are led by Bozoma Saint John (to those who are unaware, Bozoma is the Head of Global Consumer Marketing at Apple Music), it was directed by Ava Du Vernay (I have already shared my admiration for Ava and adore all her work) and it starred Mary J. Blige, Taraji P. Henson and Kerry Washington. Just knowing that alone, that engine behind the pulling together of this advert was a message in itself.
To every woman out there, be the Taraji P. Henson of your peers, yes you’re making waves on your own but do not discredit the work done by your peers, be genuinely happy and applaud them when they win, for in so doing you discredit that whole ‘crabs in barrel’ mentality. To genuinely share and bask in another’s win does not subtract anything from your work, it actually adds more shine on the awesomeness of your essence. So go forth and be the Taraji of your peers, friends and circle and stand up and cheer unapologetically for that black girl that rocks!
To every woman out there, be the Taraji P. Henson of your peers
Unrelated Addendum: Taraji P. Henson is a Virgo