Viola Davis Gives Moving Speech at 2016 Critics' Choice Awards

Viola Davis received the first-ever #SeeHer Award at the Critics' Choice Awards.

ByABC News
December 12, 2016, 1:02 PM

— -- Viola Davis gave the speech of the night at Sunday's Critics' Choice Awards.

The 51-year-old actress, who was nominated for her roles in "How to Get Away With Murder" and "Fences," received the first-ever #SeeHer Award in recognition of bringing more three-dimensional women to the screen.

Taking the stage after a standing ovation, Davis quipped, "It's hard to accept being a role model for women when you're trying to lose weight."

After laughter from the audience, she continued, "I've always discovered the heart of my characters by asking, 'Why?' You know, when I was handed ['How to Get Away With Murder' character] Annalise Keating, I said, 'She's sexy, she's mysterious.' I'm used to playing women who gotta gain 40 pounds and wear an apron. So I said, 'Oh, God, I gotta lose weight. I gotta learn how to walk like Kerry Washington in heels. I gotta lose my belly.' And then I asked myself, 'Well, why do I have to do all that?'"

Davis said the "privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. And I recently embraced that at 51."

Her "strongest power," she said, is inviting the audience "to come into my world," on Thursday nights at 10 p.m. for the ABC drama.

"You come into my world, and you sit with me, my size, my hue, my age, and you sit, and you experience. And I think that's the only power I have as an artist, so I thank you for this award," she said. "And I do see her — just like I see me."

Davis also took home an award for best supporting actress for her role in the movie "Fences."