At the 89th Academy Awards, Viola Davis accepted the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Rose in the film Fences, cementing her place in award show history as the first black woman to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony for acting—an achievement known as the "triple crown."
Davis is only the 23rd person to ever achieve triple-crown honors. The actress previously won an Emmy in 2015 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for playing Annalise Keating in the ABC show How to Get Away With Murder. She's also won two Tony awards, once in 2001 for King Hedley II and then in 2010 for the Broadway production of Fences.
Other actors to achieve the status include Helen Mirren, Al Pacino, Maggie Smith, Jeremy Irons, Christopher Plummer, and most recently, Jessica Lange. Though Whoopi Goldberg is famously an EGOT winner, her Tony for Thoroughly Modern Millie was for producing, not acting (still an amazing accomplishment), thus setting Davis apart for her historic win.
Davis has been breaking records for most of her career. She was the first black woman to earn three Oscar nominations, the first black woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama, and the first black actress (and first woman of color) to win five Screen Actors Guild Awards—an honor she claimed just weeks ago for the Denzel Washington-directed film.
The win is an important one after recent #Oscarssowhite criticism, which served to highlight a lack of black nominees in any major acting categories. Davis' record-breaking win shows steps step in the right direction, as does Mahershala Ali's historic win as the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.
Davis tearfully accepted her award Sunday night with an emotional speech about being proud of her profession and being able to honor forgotten lives.
"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."
Watch Viola Davis take W's Screen Test: