Taraji P. Henson Says She 'Would've Felt Weird' Winning the Emmy Over Viola Davis

by Meredith B. Kile 12:50 AM PDT, September 22, 2015
Playing Taraji P. Henson Says She 'Would've Felt Weird' Winning the Emmy Over Viola Davis

Taraji P. Henson stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and opened up about Sunday's 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, and losing out to How To Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Davis' win was a historic one, making her the first black actress to win the award in the history of the Emmys, a title Henson also would have held. However, the Empire star doesn't begrudge not taking home the award. 

"It was bittersweet, you know what I mean, because we all want to make history and be important to society and everything," the 45-year-old actress admitted to Ellen. "But then I thought about it. I was like, it's 2015 and we have a black president and no black woman has ever won in this category...I just thought to myself, 'God, just please give it to one of us so we will never have to say that again.' Let's just break this barrier down and keep on pushing."

"I think the universe is happy," she continued. "Viola deserved that award. And honestly, I would have felt weird if I had gotten it over her. She's been doing it longer. You just got to give respect and know when your time is."

WATCH: Viola Davis on Historic Emmy Win -- 'Tomorrow I Go Back to Work'

Henson brought her mother and her grandmother, as well as her 20-year-old son Marcel, to the awards ceremony on Sunday night, a blessing she considered a victory in itself.

"That, to me, was the win," she said. "The fact that I could do that for my family."

My family is my EVERYTHING to me!!!! #FourGenerations #emmys2015 What a BEAUTIFUL NIGHT!!!!!!! 💋💋💋

A photo posted by taraji p henson (@tarajiphenson) on

Davis thanked Henson and other prominent black TV stars in her moving acceptance speech, in which the actress got real about the opportunities that exist in Hollywood for people of color.

"Let me tell you something," Davis told the Emmy audience, "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."

WATCH: Regina King Reveals How Taraji P. Henson Tipped Off She Was About to Win the Emmy

"I feel like the universe needed to hear that message last night," Henson said Davis’ speech. "Had I won, it wouldn’t have been that message."

"I mean, it would have been good," she quickly covered with a laugh. "It would have been great, but I just think the universe orders up what it needs when it needs it. And I think the world needed to hear what she had to say last night."

However, when Ellen asked if the actress wanted to give the audience a tasted of her would-be acceptance speech, Henson demurred, saying, "You gotta catch me in the moment."

WATCH: Taraji P. Henson on Possibly Making Emmys History -- 'I Don't Want to Make It About a Material Thing'

Henson also channeled her Empire character, Cookie Lyon, on Ellen in a game called "What Would Cookie Say?"

"She’s like my spirit animal," the actress said of Cookie. "She says the things that I can’t get away with."