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Viola Davis on Why It Doesn’t Always Feel Good to be the Odds-On Favorite During Awards Season

Viola Davis isn’t getting her hopes up for an Oscar win this year. The actress, 51, has been the frontrunner for awards she ultimately missed out on, so Davis has her reservations about embracing the odds of winning Best Actress for her role in Fences.

“You know I’ve been the odds-on favorite to win before and did not?” she said on Jimmy Kimmel Live Thursday, February 16. “It’s devastating. It makes it worse. You’re sitting there and you’re like, ‘OK, I’m the odds-on favorite.’ And then your name is not called.”

The How to Get Away With Murder star offered the following comparison: “It’s like falling from a 100-story building. As opposed to, if you know you’re losing, it’s like falling from a one-story building.” Davis brings passion and depth to her role of a loyal wife with broken dreams alongside Denzel Washington, who also directed the screen adaptation of August Wilson’s drama. Both actors starred in the stage version on Broadway in 2010.

Related: Oscar Nominations 2017: Best Picture Nominees

If she does win, though, we can likely expect a memorable acceptance speech. In 2015, the mother of Genesis, 6, became the first black woman to win the Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama and brought the audience to their feet when she bluntly called out Hollywood for disadvantaging African American women.

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” declared Davis. “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.”

Related: Stars Who've Never Won an Oscar

Kimmel, this year’s Oscars host, asked the Juilliard grad on Thursday if she pens her own speeches. “They’re off the cuff,” Davis joked. “You want me to help you for the Oscars?”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to win anything,” the 49-year-old responded. “But I’ll take anything I can get.”

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