First-time Oscar winner Viola Davis accepts Best Supporting Actress trophy

Viola Davis took home her first Oscar on Sunday night.

The Fences star, who has been nominated for an Academy Award three times in the past nine years, had won every major award leading up to Sunday's big night.

"There's one place where all the greatest people are gathered, and that's the graveyard," she began while accepting the award for best supporting actress. "Exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost."

She continued, during her emotional and tearful acceptance speech, "I became an artist, and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life."

She thanked all the "cheerleaders for a movie that is about people and words and life and forgiveness and grace" and her co-star Denzel Washington, saying, "O Captain! My Captain."

See photos of Viola Davis at the Oscars:

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Viola Davis wins Best Supporting Actress at 2017 Oscars
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Viola Davis wins Best Supporting Actress at 2017 Oscars

Actor Viola Davis, winner of the Best Supporting Actress award for 'Fences' poses in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Actor Viola Davis accepts Best Supporting Actress for 'Fences' onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

89th Academy Awards - Oscars Awards Show - Viola Davis presented the award by Mark Rylance after winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Fences."

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

89th Academy Awards - Oscars Awards Show - Viola Davis accepts the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Fences."

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

89th Academy Awards - Oscars Backstage - Hollywood, California, U.S. - 26/02/17 - Actress Viola Davis poses with her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the film Fences.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

89th Academy Awards - Oscars Awards Show - Viola Davis is congratulated after winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Fences."

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

89th Academy Awards - Oscars Awards Show - Viola Davis is congratulated by Meryl Streep after winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Fences."

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Actor Viola Davis, winner of the Best Supporting Actress award for 'Fences' poses in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

US actress Viola Davis delivers a speech on stage after she won the award for Best Supporting Actress in 'Fences' at the 89th Oscars on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

(MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Actor Viola Davis, winner of the Best Supporting Actress award for 'Fences' and actor Mark Rylance pose in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

US actress Viola Davis delivers a spech on stage after she won the award for Best Supporting Actress in 'Fences' at the 89th Oscars on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

(MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Actor Viola Davis accepts Best Supporting Actress for 'Fences' onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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Adding, "Here's to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people."

She also spoke directly to her husband in the audience: "To my husband and daughter: my heart, you and Genesis. You teach me every day how to live, how to love. I'm so glad that you are the foundation of my life."

Read more: Oscars: Mahershala Ali Wins Best Supporting Actor for 'Moonlight'

Davis delivered a powerful performance in the big-screen adaption of Wilson's 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which examines the roots of unhappiness in a seemingly happy black family in Pittsburgh during the 1950s. The Fences playwright died in 2005.

Both Davis and co-star Washington earned Tony Awards for the 2010 revival of the play on Broadway.

Fences earned four nominations during Sunday's Oscars, including best actor for Washington.

After two consecutive years of the Oscar ceremonies being overshadowed by their lack of diverse acting nominees, spurring the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, Davis and Washington are two of seven people of color to earn nominations this year, including Moonlight's Mahershala Ali, and Naomie Harris; Hidden Figures' Octavia Spencer; Loving's Ruth Negga; and Lion's Dev Patel.

See the worst dressed of the night:

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Oscars 2017: Worst dressed
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Oscars 2017: Worst dressed

Oh no! Kelly Ripa, who usually lights up any red carpet she hits, failed to impress in a gaudy navy blue strapless gown with butterfly patches.

(Photo by George Pimentel/FilmMagic)

OMG! Blanca Blanco's ultra-revealing slit is so front-and-center, we barely even notice the statement shoulders.

Between the brightness of Ginnifer Goodwin's red ensemble and its super-conservative style, this look totally missed the mark.

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

'Fifty Shades Darker' star Dakota Johnson opted for a more conservative look in a yellow-hued gown, but it was a total departure from her show-stopping red carpet looks lately. 

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Yikes! Leslie Mann is giving us serious Disney princess vibes in this bright yellow ball gown -- but the amount of fabric is just totally overwhelming.

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

'Hidden Figures' creenwriter Allison Schroeder rocked a multi-colored gown that failed to impress. 

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No one could rock this incredible multidimensional floral gown, including Janelle Monae.

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Flower power! Scarlett Johansson accented her feminine floral frock with some edgy rocker-chic accessories, but the juxtaposition made for a confusing look. 

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Floral gone wrong! Cynthia Erivo black gown with intricate floral detailing was just way too overwhelming on the red carpet.

(Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)

Director Ava DuVernay commanded the carpet in a dramatic gray A-line gown -- but the color was way too drab. 

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Faye Dunaway's buttoned-up look turned heads on the red carpet -- in a bad way! The more structured menswear-inspired top matched with the feminine, ruffled bottom made for a mismatched outfit. 

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HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Kyla Weber (L) and actor Vince Vaughn attend the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Director Miranda July is a visionary, but she should have looked a little harder for the perfect Oscars gown.
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Ali picked up the award for best supporting actor earlier in the night.

Fences is also one of three best picture-nominated films centered around black protagonists.

Read more: Oscars 2017: The Winners List (Updating Live)

Though the play remains relevant 30 years later, Davis told The Hollywood Reporter she doesn't see the story as a political one.

"I don't see it as representing something any bigger than a family and a man being born into a set of circumstances and maybe not taking ownership of how he's poisoning his family, which most of us don't," she said. "Some of us go to our grave never taking ownership. We just cause destruction around us. Arthur Miller said it, and August Wilson said it: When you notice all of the sins of your father, hopefully you can approach it with forgiveness and illumination. That's just life."

Davis beat out Moonlight's Harris, Lion's Nicole Kidman, Hidden Figures' Spencer and Manchester by the Sea's Michelle Williams.

Previously, she was nominated for an Oscar for her roles in 2008's Doubt and 2011's The Help.

Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 89th Annual Academy Awards, which were held at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre and aired live Sunday on ABC.

See all of the red carpet arrivals:

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Oscars 2017: Red carpet arrivals
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Oscars 2017: Red carpet arrivals
Jennifer Aniston put her best foot forward in an extremely sexy black dress that featured a thigh-high sliy an nd a plunging neckline. Lookin' good J! REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Metallic maven! Red-carpet veteran Jessica Biel strikes gold in this unique number.

Nicole Kidman was the epitome of perfection in a sparkling nude Armani gown she paired with a dramatic red lip.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

'La La Land' star Emma Stone stunned, yet again, in a fringed gold Givenchy ensemble. She looked sophisticated with her dramatic red lip and Old Hollywood-inspired curls.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Lady in red! Ginnifer Goodwin matched the red carpet in a long-sleeved, sheer ensemble that she matched with a clutch of the same color.

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

'Fifty Shades Darker' star Dakota Johnson opted for a more conservative look in a yellow-hued gown that covered most of her body.  

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Ruth Negga, nominee for Best Actress, wears vibrant red Valentino.

Wow! Charlize Theron stunned in metallic black Dior ensemble with a plunging neckline.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The queen is back! Halle Berry made her triumphant Oscars return in a one-shoulder black-and-gold gown.

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Michelle Williams dazzled in a two-toned halter gown with a plunging neckline.

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Matt Damon looked totally dapper in his sleek tux, but it was his wife Luciana Barroso who stole the show in a sophisticated grey ensemble with a plunging neckline.

(Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

Meryl Streep basically skipped the red carpet, but she made sure to show off her dress inside and was a stunner in a midnight blue off-the-shoulder dress. 

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Scarlett Johansson turned out to the Oscars in a totally different number, a pastel pink silky, flowy dress with a thick belt. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
THE OSCARS(r) - The 89th Oscars(r) broadcasts live on Oscar(r) SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2017, on the ABC Television Network. (Tyler Golden/ABC via Getty Images) TRUDIE STYLER, STING
"Moana" star Dwayne Johnson and Lauren Hashian were quite the sexy pair. Johnson took a colorful approach in a midnight blue, velvet dress. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Brie Larson sported a sophisticated twist to the typical black gown with a dramatic neckline and a ruffled train.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Busy Philipps, who hit the red carpet with BFF and date Michelle Williams, turned heads in a strapless velvet green gown with sheer accents.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Viola Davis was a vision in bright red, wearing an off-the-shoulder look with a classy train.

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Hailee Steinfeld's sheer gown features floral embellishments in pastel shades. 

Chrissy Teigen hits the red carpet in a leggy style that has never failed her. She looks stunning!

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Ryan Gosling went the vintage route in a Gucci DIY Made to Order black velvet tuxedo and a black velvet bow tie. The look was both fun and unique. 

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Salma Hayek's spaghetti-strap bodice plays up her age-defying body -- are we really supposed to believe she's 50?!
Knockouts! Jamie Dornan and Amelia Warner made quite the couple. Amelia looked incredible in a polka dot dress with a cape in a blush color. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Beautiful! Emma Roberts showed up to the red carpet with fiery new locks. But can we talk about that gown? Absolutely stunning!

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Stunning! Alicia Vikander's high-low dark lace gown stole the show. She paired the look with strappy heels and a gorgeous diamond choker. 

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

OMG! Blanca Blanco's ultra-revealing slit is so front-and-center, we barely even notice the statement shoulders.

Leslie Mann is giving us serious Disney princess vibes (Belle anyone?!) in this bright yellow ball gown.

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

She never disappoints! Olivia Culpo wears a one-of-a-kind Marchesa for Stella Artois gown.
Va-va-voom! Taraji P. Henson is a modern-day Jessica Rabbit in this figure-hugging blue velvet look by Alberto Ferretti.

John Legend's oversized bowtie he matched with his Gucci tux is just quirky enough to stand out.

(Getty)

Scarlett O'Hara, is that you? Nancy O'Dell goes for old-school glamour in this full red ballgown.
Where do we even start?! E! News host Zuri Hall's multi-textured lavender gown is a true work of art.
The definition of "blonde bombshell," Karlie Kloss' streamlined white Stella McCartney look stole the show.

Gorgeous! Octavia Spencer wowed in an off-the-shoulder Marchesa dress with a feathery bottom.

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Aloha! Auli'i Cravalho, voice of Disney's Moana, embraces her Hawaiian roots in a shell-inspired white gown with gold detailing.
Crisp & clean: Lucas Hedges is tailored to perfection in a classic tux.
Hollywood hunk! Luke Bracey ups the game in a black velvet coat.
Fashion Police host Brad Goreski is smart and stylish in a blue velvet smoking jacket.
Glen Powell looks casual on the carpet, but he still cleans up nice in a black tux.
Jason Bateman let Amanda Anka steal the show in her sheer dove gray lace number. Gotta love a sexy halter top!
It's all in the details: TV personality Debbie Matenopoulos' asymmetrical nude gown features a stunning waterfall sleeve.
Sofia Carson is Oscars royalty in a white tulle ballgown with metallic detailing.
Aldis Hodge accents his tux with statement jewelry.
Look at that figure! 'Good Morning America' anchor Robin Roberts glows in gold.
John Savage ditches the black suit/black shoes rule with brown kicks.
A far cry from her 'Star Wars' wardrobe: Felicity Jones' delicate ballerina-inspired tulle dress is understated but stunning.
Isabelle Huppert vamps up an angelic white dress with a bold scarlet lip.
Michael Strahan goes for luxury in a black velvet suit.
Can you believe she's only 14?! Brianna Perez accents her ivory gown with a shimmering silver choker.
Jackie Chan appeared on the carpet with two adorable friends! The star has two real pandas of his own and is an advocate for panda protection.
Jerry O'Connell mixes things up in a silky maroon blazer with dark brown lapels.
'Moonlight' director Barry Jenkins smiles big in a crisp black tux with silk lapels.

Sofia Boutella took a fashion risk with an unexpected feathery twist.

"Hacksaw Ridge" star Teresa Palmer looked gorgeous in a silver number with tons of pleats. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Sunny Pawar's kicks -- and awesome attitude! -- are second to none on the red carpet.
Shohreh Aghdashloo is head-to-toe majestic in shimmering black.
Andrew Garfield, nominee for Best Actor, is in good spirits in a slim-fit tux.
Why play by the rules? Riz Ahmed's perfect-fitting blue suit is fun but event-appropriate.
David Oyelowo's clean white jacket is a red-carpet win.
Vince Vaughn was handsome as ever at the Oscars. He's wearing Johnston & Murphy X David Hart Lace Ups. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Director Ava DuVernay commands the carpet in a dramatic gray A-line gown.
Jharrel Jerome's black-and-white look is a fashion win for the star's first Oscars ceremony.
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actor Jessica Oyelowo attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney is full-on white on white, all the way down to his squeaky-clean loafers.
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actor Tracy Pollan attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actor Michael J. Fox attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson looked lovely in white. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Screenwriter Allison Schroeder rocks a gorgeous rose-toned chiffon V-neck gown.
SLAY! No one could rock this incredible multidimensional gown quite like Janelle Monae.
Dev Patel joins the white jacket trend -- and we're loving the scruffy 'do!
She never ages! Laura Dern rocks a sequinned navy gown.
Have mercy! Mahershala Ali is breaking hearts all over the world in this picture-perfect black-on-black ensemble.
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actor Andrew Garfield attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Was math class always this hot? Priyanka Chopra is a geometric goddess in this innovative architectural look.
Lookin' good! Javier Bardem ditched the predictable bowtie for a thin black tie and smart suit from Gucci.
Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson contrast yet complement each other: He wears a deep blue jacket and matching tie, while she opted for romantic peach ruffles.
Always an original! Faye Dunaway's buttoned-up look turned heads on the red carpet.
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actor Kate McKinnon attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
Sara Bareilles was absolutely stunning in a red dress with an angled neckline. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
Jeremy Renner put his best foot forward in a classic tuxedo. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller looked quite classy in a tux and a red dress. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
Best Actor nominee Casey Affleck is all cleaned up for his big night -- but he kept his trademark scruffy beard and ponytail! (Did you really expect anything else?)
What can he say except "you're welcome"? 'Moana' star Dwayne Johnson is a real-life demigod in a fun blue velvet jacket and gray pants.
Putting everyone's husbands to shame: Chris Evans conquered the red carpet in this unexpected all-blue ensemble.
Sheldon's looking dapper! Jim Parsons is far from his nerdy "Big Bang Theory" persona on the red carpet. He rocked Johnston & Murphy shoes.
She's giving us butterflies! Kelly Ripa surprised onlookers with a a creature-adorned navy gown.
Go bold or go home! Cynthia Erivo proves she's not afraid of patterns in an A-line frock.

Terrence Howard and Mira Pak arrive at the Oscars. Howard is wearing a Piaget timepiece.

(Photo by George Pimentel/FilmMagic)

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