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Nancy Lee Grahn Inserts Foot in Mouth

Another General Hospitalactor found herself in trouble on Twitter.

We all know and love Nancy Lee Grahn. And her fans certainly know that she's outspoken.

However, after what's been lauded as a fabulous Emmy acceptance speech by Viola Davis, Grahn took to Twitter and had plenty to say.  As a feminist, one might have expected her to cheer the star of How to Get Away with Murder.

Uh, no.

Grahn Critical of Speech

Davis became the first black woman to take home the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series trophy.

She used the opportunity to mention the lack of parts for women of color.

"And let me tell you something," she told the audience, "the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that simply aren't there."  

Grahn had this to say: ...None of us get respect or opportunity we deserve. Emmys not venue 4 racial opportunity. ALL women belittled.

Davis quoted Harriett Tubman in her speech, "In my dreams, I see a line. 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"

To which Grahn responds:

Harriet Tubman not equivalent to great roles Viola Davis hired 2 play. She's made millions. It is unfair comparison. .

Try being any woman in TV. Wish she'd brought every woman in the picture. I wish I'd opportunity to play roles she has [played]...She is a goddess. I want equality 4 ALL women...I think she's the bees knees but she's elite of TV performers...She has never been discriminated against.


After a Twitter backlash, Grahn thought better of her remarks and wrote:

I apologize for my earlier tweets... 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.

Women in Film & Television

Grahn might look General Hospital as an industry microcosm. She comments that Viola Davis has never been discriminated against. Viola Davis is discriminated against every time a casting director sees a show breakdown and casts men and white women in roles that could have been played by women of color.

And yes, like most actresses over 40, she is also discriminated against along with all other actresses whose last names are not Mirren, Dench, or Streep. So in Davis' case, that discrimination is doubled.

Davis isn't the first actress who feels this way. The late Ruby Dee said in 1980: "Before I latched onto the concept of stereotypes, not once did I reckon with the fact that I would never be a 'Hollywood starlet.' ...The white actresses I have known have been allowed to do 10 times more than I shall ever do..."

Attorney Angeli Rasbury wrote, "Before...Scandal, I watched Diahann Carroll play a single mother in the 1968 TV series Julia. Several years later in 1974, Teresa Graves starred as an undercover detective in the TV movie Get Christie Love! Yet it would take another 20 years to see not one, but four, black women as the stars of a TV show--the '90s hit comedy Living Single." 

Today...Moving Forward

This is a complicated issue and one that can't be solved on Twitter. And we haven't even had the light-skinned versus dark-skinned actresses discussion, or the stereotyped roles all women have been forced to play.

Are things better? Yes, thanks to writers and producers like Shonda Rimes. Are things better for older actresses? Yes. Is anything where it should be? No.

Of more than 250 box office releases in 2013, for example, fewer than 50 have featured a black woman in a leading or supporting role. 

In Hollywood, we need more women of all races in power in order for things to change. And it will. But change is slow.

It's important to look at what has been accomplished. Twenty years ago, soap actresses were back-burnered once they hit a certain age.

Now look at Grahn -- as Alexis, she's in a romance with a gorgeous guy. So look at how far we've come, not only how far we have to go.

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