On September 21, 2015, How to Get Away With Murder's Viola Davis became the first African American woman in television history to win an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy Award. Davis—who has won two Tony Awards and is an Oscar nominated actress—took the stage and delivered the best acceptance speech of the night, even including a quote by Harriet Tubman.
"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.
Social media exploded with applause for Davis and her historic achievement. And then there was General Hospital's resident sour grape, Nancy Lee Grahn.
Anyone who follows Grahn, knows she's active on Twitter. On any given day it's a roller coaster of drama, which might explain why she, a supporting actress, has 161,000 followers and General Hospital's lead actor Maurice Benard has just 129,000 followers.
Now the average person would guess, even expect, that on such a momentous night Grahn would be cheering right along with everyone else. If so, you guessed wrong.
Instead, Grahn hopped on Twitter and started firing off tweets telling the world the speech was not inclusive enough. She even insisted that as an "elite" TV performer, Viola Davis "has never been discriminated against." Think about that for a second. Take another. Just for good measure, you get a third second.
On Emmy night, when millions of people are watching the telecast and following on social media, Grahn took it upon herself to tell her 161,000 followers that fellow ABC actress Davis "has never been discriminated against." Only Grahn can explain such unequivocal hubris.
And explaining Grahn needs to do. How to Get Away With Murder was ABC's No. 1 new show of the 2014-2015 season. Davis's boss Shonda Rhimes is the queen of ABC's Thursday night lineup and an even more prominent advocate of diversity and equality. Davis was the only broadcast TV actor/actress to win one of the four major Drama categories (the amazing Regina King won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series).
Why did Grahn take it upon herself to soil Davis's historic win and treat her speech like a rotten apple?
Grahn's behavior was so out of line, she trended on Twitter (Along with the Emmys and Game of Thrones hashtags). Even Oscar winner Patricia Arquette (no stranger to social media's wrath herself) told Grahn to shut up.
Hours later, Grahn eventually apologized, though one has to wonder what inspired the change of heart after such an adamant defense.
ABC needs stronger social media clauses in its contracts. This is not the first a General Hospital actor has shown his or her ass on Twitter, but it needs to be the last.
The ABC Daytime drama's publicity department is the most inept in daytime, but it isn't damaging the General Hospital brand like Grahn does by attacking Davis, or Bryan Craig did by threatening to break a fan's fingers.
As Grahn pointed out, she's been an actress for 40 years. There are countless equally talented and popular actresses her age who would be more than happy to portray Alexis Cassadine. The same goes for the role of Morgan Corinthos. Both roles can be recast with professional actors who won't damage General Hospital.
Meanwhile, acclaimed actress Audra McDonald weighed in on the controversy, referring to Grahn as a troll.