Roger Guenveur Smith on Viola Davis’ speech

Roger Guenveur Smith is in town for the next couple of weeks in his acclaimed Rodney King at the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul.

During a MSR phone interview, Smith was asked about Actress Viola Davis, who recently won an Emmy for her performances in How to Get Away with Murder.

“I loved that she came out and quoted Harriet Tubman” in her acceptance speech, noted Smith of Davis, the first Black female to win best dramatic actress award. “To quote her and to give props to her contemporaries, I think was an extraordinary shrewd move on her part but also very passionate and very heartfelt.”

Davis’ win however didn’t hide the fact that meaty roles for Black actors still are a premium, continued Smith. “I think [her speech] addressed the absolute dilemma of what we do. She said that the only thing separating women of color from everyone else is opportunity. I think the stunned silence in that audience really indicated that.

“It was a loving moment,” said Smith. “I’m so happy for her, and I am challenged, and we all should be.”


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