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Viola Davis reveals why she wore sneakers onstage at the Emmys

The “How to Get Away with Murder” star flashed her sneakers while presenting at the Emmy Awards on Monday.
Viola Davis
Actress Viola Davis arrives for the 71st Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sept. 22.Valerie Macon / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Today

Viola Davis has been heralded in Hollywood for everything from her dynamic acting skills to her advocacy for equitable pay. But at the Emmy Awards last Sunday, it was her decision to pair comfort with style that caught the attention of viewers.

The “How to Get Away with Murder” star wore a gorgeous black-and-white gown for the occasion, but surprised the audience when she flashed her trendy platform sneakers as she strode across the stage.

Viola Davis
Viola Davis speaks onstage during the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on Sept. 22 in Los Angeles.Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Davis, 54, explained her decision to forgo her heels on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Thursday night.

“My wife and I were sitting in the crowd and you walked out onstage and you had sneakers on and my wife was like, ‘Yes! She’s wearing sneakers!’” Kimmel told Davis. “Almost as if someone forced her to wear high heels.”

“But that’s what it feels like!” Davis replied. “That you’re forced to wear heels.”

The actress, who was presenting the Emmy Award for best supporting actor in a drama series, said that when she found out she had to walk a considerable distance to get to the podium, she was adamant about trading in her heels for sneakers.

“Here’s the thing: I knew I had to present, so I thought I was going to hobble onstage to the podium and just announce the supporting actor,” she said. “But then I found out I had to walk through the presentation and I said, ‘Oh hell no.’ I said, ‘I will only do it if I could wear my sneakers,’ and I wore my sneakers.”

And wear them she did, flashing her stylish silver and black sneakers through a high slit in her gown as she strode across the stage. Davis said she did wear heels on the red carpet because she “did not want to insult Stuart Weitzman, who made the shoes.”

“Who would stop you?” Kimmel asked with a laugh, clearly impressed by Davis’ decision to swap footwear mid-event.

“Nobody, because I was ready to fight,” the actress quipped back. Davis also joked that her husband lovingly makes fun of the way she walks when she wears heels.

“My husband calls me Frank,” she told Kimmel. “You know why he calls me Frank? Because he says, ‘V, when you get in those damn heels, you walk like Frankenstein!’”

Viola Davis
Davis also sported sneakers on the red carpet at the New York screening of "A Touch of Sugar" on April 25.Jim Spellman / Getty Images

The Emmys weren’t the first time that Davis opted to change outfits on an awards night: At the 2017 Oscars, she also wore Stuart Weitzman pumps that she paired with a red, off-the-shoulder Armani gown. At the Vanity Fair afterparty, she switched up her look in a sleek white pantsuit and Stella McCartney brogues.

Davis will be portraying former first lady Michelle Obama in the upcoming Showtime drama series “First Ladies,” a role that she feels “terrified” to take on.

“I don’t care what else I’ve done in my life — I’ve won an Emmy, I won an Oscar, two Tonys,” she told Kimmel, “but if I mess this up, this is going to be the defining moment in my life. Like, ‘You raised a great kid but you messed up Michelle Obama.’”