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EMMYS 2015: Nancy Lee Grahn Forgets to Check Privilege in Tweets About Viola Davis

Last night, actress Nancy Lee Grahn incurred the wrath of Twitter when she tweeted in response to Viola Davis’ Emmy award acceptance speech. After suggesting Shonda Rhimes “should have written” her speech, someone on Twitter responded with a screencap of Rhimes tweeting that she loves listening to Davis speak, to which Grahn replied:

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*record scratch* Hold up, did she actually mean that Davis, a woman of color who works as an actress in Hollywood of all places, had never been discriminated against? Uh-huh, okay. Folks on Twitter were quick to point out how ridiculous that statement was, calling Grahn out. 

Then, her argument changed as she tried to change the conversation, saying she wished Davis spoke about all women, not just women of color.  

Put simply, this is exactly like when someone tries to say “all lives matter” over “black lives matter”. Of course all women have struggles working within Hollywood. Nobody’s arguing that. But women of color face disproportionately more discrimination when it comes to working in that industry. Last night was a historic moment, a moment in which Davis got to highlight the experiences of other women of color within her industry. So it’s understandable how it was quite foolish for Grahn to try to erase “women of color” from the conversation, then wonder why that was so wrong to do. The whole thing demonstrated her inability to understand how intersectionality works. To her credit, she apologized and acknowledged she has some privilege to check. She tweeted:

I apologize for my earlier tweets and now realize I need to check my own privilege. My intention was not to take this historic and important moment from Viola Davis or other women of color but I realize that my intention doesn’t matter here because that is what I ended up doing. I learned a lot tonight and I admit that there are still some things I don’t understand but I am trying to and will let this be a learning experience for me

Though not long after that, she once again had something else to share:

… *sigh*. Are you kidding me?

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.

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