All Articles Tagged "Viola Davis"
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“I Wish That I Could Tell My Sister That She’s Not Dirty” Viola Davis Shares Sister’s Sexual Assault Story
Viola Davis has spoken openly about growing up in abject poverty, going to school hungry as a child. Now, she’s lending her voice to another, very necessary and important cause, raising awareness for sexual assault victims and partnering with The Stuart House, a nonprofit organization that works with The Rape Foundation to support child victims of sex abuse.
In doing so, she shared her sister’s story of sexual assault and how it impacted the rest of her life. She did so to paint a clear picture of what type of damage childhood sexual trauma can do to a person if it goes untreated.
You can read a transcript of her speech below.
I have a sister who, when she was 8-years-old, put on some roller-skates with her friend, went down to the corner store at one-o-clock in the afternoon, went into the store and was sexually assaulted in the store. She came home and she told my mom. My mom ran down to the store, started screaming at the store owners. And they said, ‘Leave that man alone. He does that to all of the little girls.’
And then my mom proceeded to flag down a police officer, they found the man, they put him in the car. I saw my little sister crying, my mom was crying too. And that was it.
And then, from there a precocious, very intelligent, very creative child grew up to be frail, angry, a drug addict by the time she was twenty. Six children all of which have been taken by social services. A prostitute. An IV drug user.
You know memories demand attention because memories have teeth.
And in my vision and in my dreams, when I pray for my sister… you know you pray in general terms. You pray that she finds peace and love and happiness. She gets off drugs. And then of course, you open your eyes and she’s still on the streets.
But you know, it struck me that God answered my prayers with the Stuart House. You know it’s a bigger answer to my prayers than the one I was dreaming. I kind of really low-balled it.
But if I had a fantasy and I mean a fantasy, I would give her permission to speak and I would want her in an environment where people heard her. And I would want her to be angry. Because I feel that it’s not the abuser’s angry that he’s afraid of. It’s the victim’s anger that he’s afraid of. And I want her to get angry because I wish she had the Stuart House to throw her a rope because her whole life could have been different. And now her whole life is what at 39?
There are a lot of beautiful stories out there that are going to come out of the Stuart House. Really. I mean there’s a lot of people who gave to this beautiful facility and they gave until it hurt because there’s going to be so many testimonies of winning, heroic young people who literally open their mouths and dare to speak about their abuse, dare to call out their abusers.
And I guess if I were to speak about anything today, I’m going to speak about my sisters of the world. The people who fell through the cracks. WHo didn’t have a Stuart House. Because when I see that building there, the other thing that I see is the stories of the victims who didn’t get out. And the reason why that image needs to be placed in each and every one of our hearts is to show the deep importance of healing from childhood sexual trauma.
This is the day that the Lord has made and I’m going to rejoice and be glad in it. Because I wish that I could tell my sister that she’s not dirty. And that she should not feel any shame of something that she literally was not responsible for. I wish I could save her life…And I thank God for answering my prayers.
And I hope that–with each and every one of you, when you leave this facility. I’m praying the deepest prayer that you continue the fight in your heart. We take pictures, we drink some coffee, we eat some great, great great little snacks and we feel good really. And then we go about our lives. But I want you to feel the passion of all the people who work at the Stuart House. And with that we could wipe it out man.
You can watch the full video of Viola’s speech here.
Whoopi Goldberg was recently interviewed by BET.com and was asked about Viola Davis’ astounding Emmy speech which moved many of us — except Nancy Grahn, of course, and seemingly Whoopi.
In her speech, Davis proclaimed, “The only thing that separates women of color from anybody else is opportunity,” a fact many women of color in the entertainment and other industries know to be true.
However, Auntie Whoopi strongly disagreed with Davis’ statement on Hollywood’s inequities. She told BET Reporter Chantal Potter:
“I’m not sure what that [Viola’s statement] means; Opportunity to do what? You know what I mean. The truth of the matter is, there have been plenty of opportunities. Look at Scandal! Kerry Washington is there and she’s working her booty off. But they [the Emmy board] didn’t vote for her. So maybe the question is, “What do you have to do, to get voted on?” Not that the opportunity is not there. We’ve had lots of opportunities. See now there will be more parts, more dramas because Viola won an Emmy award. The truth is everyone wants an Emmy, the studios, everyone! So they’ll hire more Black women.”
Whoopi’s confusing statement means the same thing Davis referenced in her speech. Women of color are marginalized from receiving roles or awards and the opportunities are only offered when another colleague of color earns the said accolades first. This method is unacceptable and not known to be used when casting actresses who are White.
Whoopi and her co-host Raven-Symoné must have some special insight when it comes to hiring people of color that we don’t know about. What do you think?
Check out the full interview below.
Whoopi doesn’t cosign Viola’s Emmy Speech: “The Truth of the Matter is, there’s been Plenty of Opportunity…” https://t.co/RzRbp8OCAk
— BET (@BET) October 8, 2015
I enjoy “How To Get Away With Murder.” It challenges me. I have to concentrate in order to make sure I’m not left in the dark once the plot lines thicken. Not to mention, the acting is superb. Viola Davis taps into virtually every emotion as Annalise Keating and it’s a joy to watch.
There’s generally a consensus about that, evidenced by Davis’ recent Emmy win.
But last night, a few people were in their feelings.
In case you missed it, during last night’s episode, we watched Annalise and her former college classmate and boo thing Eve get it on like they used to do in the olden days. I watched Annalise and I believed her in the scenes with Eve. It didn’t seem forced or inauthentic. It was Annalise, doing what she always does: Using and manipulating people.
And she did it well.
But y’all know there are always people who want to talk about the so-called “gay agenda” being promoted on television, particularly in Shonda Rhimes’ show. That’s what I was seeing on Facebook. People were calling for Black people to “stand up” and stop accepting these type of roles, roles that paint Black people in some type of immoral or negative light. This person even went so far as to argue that Viola only won the Emmy because people on the voting committee knew that there were going to be lesbian love scenes for Annalise Keating in the future.
Possible, but a stretch.
More than anything I was perturbed by this line of thinking because it seemed so contradictory to what Viola and Shonda stand for.
They’re about inclusion.
And that’s what Viola’s memorable Emmy speech was all about.
She wants Black women represented and included in Hollywood images. And we all cheered for that. But when that inclusion is extended to someone outside of our group, then we’re not here for it. Ironically, this is just how Nancy Grahn sounded on Twitter when she bashed Viola’s speech.
And that’s what’s so troubling about these comments. Whether you believe that homosexuality is a sin or not, you understand that gay men and women live and exist in this world. They certainly have unique experiences and stories that I’m sure they too, would like to see reflected on the television screen.
It’s always so interesting to me that Christians will readily watch people lie, steal, cheat, kill, rape, and torture someone without flinching. But two same sex people kissing or having sex or hell, just being in love is entirely too much to bear.
The show is literally called “How To Get Away With Murder” and people tune in expecting it to be the new TBN.
It pains and saddens me to hear Black people call for inclusion and representation and then scoff and lob shame on so and so when that same basic decency is offered to someone else. We sound like hypocrites.
I don’t have to tell you all that Viola Davis is a class act. But that doesn’t mean she’s been deaf and blind to the discussion surrounding her recent and historic Emmy win, particularly her acceptance speech.
We’re talking about Nancy Grahn.
You may remember that Grahn, a soap star on “General Hospital” took issue with Viola’s speech saying to liken herself to Harriet Tubman, “digging thru a tunnel,” was a bit of a stretch. And she also wondered why she didn’t reference the ways in which all women are disenfranchised in Hollywood.
Naturally, it was bullish*t, likely brought on my Grahn’s own feelings of jealousy.
But Viola has heard about it.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Davis addressed Grahn’s criticisms and explained why that Harriet Tubman quote was so necessary.
And she even revealed what she and Taraji said to one another in that memorable embrace before she took the stage.
Why she used that Harriet Tubman quote
My husband and I are doing a Harriet Tubman project, and when it was picked up by HBO, one of the producers sent me that quote. It struck me in such a huge way because of its progressiveness, so it stayed with me ever since, and that’s been several months. I just felt it was apropos, seeing that no woman of color has ever won in that category. That moment had to be acknowledged, or else it would be a missed opportunity. It would be one of those moments I would look back on, and I would have regretted it.
On the Backlash
If there has been any backlash, it’s that all people want to feel included in a speech. I know there has been some backlash with an actress who didn’t feel she was included.
You mean Nancy Grahn?
Yes. I don’t know that I want to say more about that.
Y’all Viola is brilliant. Do you see what she did there? Nancy Grahn was deep up in her feelings because she didn’t feel included which is exactly what Viola’s speech was about in the first place. The same thing you want, we want.
What did you and Taraji say to one another that night?
First of all, that was like the second or third time we hugged through the night. She said, “I love you,” and I said, “I love you more than anything in the world, I love you!” That’s what we said. I think at the end of the day, people want to be seen. And I think that’s why it was important for me and Taraji to acknowledge that in each other, to not just feel like it is competition, to just say, I see you, yes, I see you, too. I love you. I take you in.
The other Black actresses she celebrated that night
Oh, I saw every last one of them! I saw Uzo, I saw Regina, I saw Lorraine Toussant, I saw Niecy Nash, I saw Queen Latifah — I didn’t get to see Mo’Nique or Kerry Washington, who I get to see on the set every once in a while. But I am renewing my vows on Feb. 13, and I hope I will get to see Kerry Washington and Taraji there. Oprah sent me a bouquet. See, these are actresses I get together with every year, in community, in camaraderie, in sisterhood. It’s pointless to be in competition — it’s only adding to the pressure that the business is putting on you.
I appreciate the way she addressed Grahn without making it messy or giving her an opportunity to respond. And I love that she shared what she and Taraji said to one another. But what struck me the most about the interview was that Davis explained how she’s finally learning to embrace the good.
How are you feeling about everything?
I’m feeling good! I’m surprised. I usually go inside my head and start overthinking things whenever something good happens and talk myself out of the joy. But I haven’t done that this time, so I think that’s a sign of maturity.
You can Davis’ full interview here.
You can read her full interview here.
Many think that the Golden Age of Black television is now, and these influential women are making this the best year yet for representation on the small screen. From making Hollywood a better place to giving us serious #sisterhood goals, these ladies are inspiring us onscreen and off.
At the end of the day, as a parent there’s nothing better than knowing that your child knows that all the hard work you do, all the late nights you work, is for them.
Emmy winner and How to Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis has a daughter who get’s it in little Miss Genesis.
Little Genesis “hacked” her mom’s Instagram account to post the most adorable congratulatory message ever.
The caption reads, “Hacking mommy’s instagram with the help of Team JuVee!!!”
In the video, Genesis says: “I love you mommy and I hope you win another Emmy. You’re my favorite girl and I love you.”
Davis shared another photo of her daughter rocking her Neil Lane jewels. “Don’t know where she got that pose from. My baby!!!” Davis says on Instagram.
In a cover story for Variety magazine, Davis reveals some post-Emmy feelings and the deeper meaning of her historical win.
“I keep expecting to be that little girl who loses the contest,” Davis told Variety. “It’s a mixture of disbelief and joy and acceptance. It’s just beautiful.”
More than just an Emmy, Davis explains how this award speaks volumes beyond a Hollywood platform.
“What it meant for me to win the Emmy is I found it,” Davis explained. “It’s not just the award. It’s what it’s going to mean to young girls — young brown girls, especially. When they saw a physical manifestation of a dream, I felt like I had fulfilled a purpose.”
Just beautiful indeed.
The last full week of September was one of those weeks where celebs should've backed away from the Internet. Between Nancy Grahn attempting to discredit Viola Davis' experience as a Black woman in Hollywood to R.L. being in his feelings over the "Why You Lyin'" parody and K. Michelle cussing out Idris Elba and the mother of his child on Instagram, we can't help but question not only why are these stars mad, but why are they so messy? Watch this episode of Did Y'all See? above and weigh in with the editors in the comments section.
One of the many pearls of wisdom that my grandmother instilled in me before she left this earth was the art of being happy for others—even when they’ve been blessed with something that you may still be praying for. Apparently, Taraji P. Henson has also mastered this concept.
The actress was up against Viola Davis at Sunday evening’s Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Davis won, making her the first Black actress to win the award in Emmys history, and Henson believes that the universe meant for it to be that way.
“It was bittersweet,” she told Ellen DeGeneres. “We all want to make history and be important to society and everything. But then, I thought about it. It’s 2015, and we have a Black president, but no Black woman has ever won in this category. This is weird! So when I went into it, and I knew I was being nominated alongside Viola, I was just like ‘God, please give it to one of us, so we never have to say this again! Let’s just break this barrier down and keep on pushing.’”
Henson adds that the respect she has for Davis would have made winning the award slightly uncomfortable.
“I think the universe is happy. Viola deserved that award and honestly, I would have felt weird if I would’ve gotten it over her. She’s been doing it longer, and you just got to give respect and know when your time is.”
As for Davis’ now popular acceptance speech about the lack of opportunity provided to women of color in Hollywood, which attracted its share of criticism, Henson says that it was necessary.
“I feel like the universe needed to hear that message last night,” the “Empire” actress expressed. “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.”
She’s such a class act. And with a positive attitude like that, there’s no doubt that Miss Taraji’s time will come as well.
I am thrilled about Sunday night’s history-making Emmys. But I must admit, I halfway stand with Nancy Grahn, the White soap-opera star who tweeted “I wish I loved [the] #ViolaDavis speech” and I heard harriet y Tubman [sic] and I thought its a fucking emmy for gods sake [sic].”
I, too, wish that I loved Davis’s speech. As impressed as I was with her emotional tribute to Black women and her public declaration that the color line in Hollywood is real (and must be reckoned with), I wasn’t exactly caught up in the #BlackGirlMagic excitement that swept across social media. What’s more, I, too, heard Harriet Tubman and thought, “Really? We’re evoking Harriet…now?”
Don’t get me wrong, I actually think there’s scant an inappropriate time to bring up Ms. Tubman. But as soon as Davis finished those prefatory remarks that she attributed to the abolitionist, I couldn’t help but to raise an eyebrow. Something about the tone and tenor of that Tubman quote seemed like overkill, not to mention that my inner fact-checker was dubious about the context and origin of Tubman’s original words.
I couldn’t track down a reliable source for Davis’s Harriet Tubman quote (and no, BrainyQuote doesn’t count as a “reliable” source). But I did discover an online copy of Harriet, The Moses of Her People, a biography by Sarah H. Bradford that was first published in 1886. In the book, there’s a passage that reads as follows:
…she seemed to see a line dividing the land of slavery from the land of freedom, and on the other side of that line she saw lovely white ladies waiting to welcome her, and to care for her. Already in her mind her people were the Israelites in the land of Egypt, while far away to the north somewhere, was the land of Canaan; but had she as yet any prevision [sic] that she was to be the Moses who was to be their leader, through clouds of darkness and fear, and fires of tribulation to that promised land? This she never said.
Now, in those sentences, I heard echoes of Davis’s Harriet Tubman quote, but I didn’t hear the quote itself. For all I know, Viola Davis may have retrieved the quote from a prestigious Harriet Tubman research vault where she sat thumbing through hours of transcriptions of interviews with Tubman for her upcoming role as the abolitionist. Or, for all I know, Davis may have retrieved the quote from someone who used it as his email signature after reading it on BrainyQuote. A site, which, again, for all I know, may have first crafted the “quote” based on Bradford’s words, not Tubman’s.
All that to say, I, like Grahn, wasn’t wowed by last night’s best actress speech. But, although she nearly lost me at Harriet Tubman, Davis quickly recovered my attention with that flawless one-liner: “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
Despite my own tepid reaction to what I like to call Davis’s “Field of Dreams Speech” (per those first few opening phrases, “I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful White women…”), I emphatically applaud and affirm the How to Get Away with Murder star’s rightful place on that podium last night. I, like so many Black women, love me some Viola Davis; and I hold up her right to do or say anything she damn well pleases from the Emmys stage.
But guess what? Grahn, too, has the right to react to what Davis does and says from that Emmys stage. Which is why I’m going on the record as a Black woman who also didn’t care for the speech, but who also recognizes that there’s a thin line between not loving a speech and completely disparaging or undermining the speech-giver.
So, as much as I wish I loved Davis’s speech, I also wish Grahn hadn’t crossed that line. I wish she had spoken more humbly, more circumspectly (all the f-bombs and that “color me heartbroken” remark about people calling her racist didn’t sit well). Still, just because Grahn’s words were hurtful and irresponsible doesn’t mean she didn’t have the right to speak at all.
But there’s a slippery slope with the word “right” and who has the right to say what and to/about whom. In the case of Grahn and Davis, the slope gets even more precarious when you take into account the longtime “who has the right to say what” struggle between Black women and White women.
Grahn’s Twitter ranting about Davis reeked of dismissiveness and misplaced resentment. Two tweets, in particular, seemed particularly ill-tempered: ”Brilliant as she is. She has never been discriminated against” and “Try being any woman in TV. Wish she’d brought every woman in the picture. I wish I’d [had] opportunity to play roles she gets.”
First of all, Grahn’s so-called critiques were yet another instance of overkill that incited my inner fact-checker and, presumably, the inner fact-checker of any Black woman who has read enough Viola Davis interviews to know that her discrimination journey is a real one. It includes a fight to overcome her personal self-esteem challenges and a struggle to navigate a Hollywood landscape where there’s a dearth of roles for women of color. (Please read these great pieces by Stacia Brown and Rebecca Carroll that mention specific references about Davis being undercut by the media and her peers on several public occasions. This includes the time she was cut off mid-sentence by Charlize Theron.)
But the biggest problem with Grahn’s Twitter fingers is not that they were firing off inaccurate statements. The biggest problem is not even that what Grahn said was racist. (We can debate whether or not her comments were racist, but we know this for sure: They were rude.) The biggest problem is that this kind of blind rudeness from White women–the privilege of rudeness, if you will–is so exasperating to Black women. It’s absolutely nothing new, but it’s so damn persistent and treacherous and trying that it makes us want to holler.
When I read Grahn’s tweet about how she wishes she’d had Davis’s career and opportunities, I could picture all kinds of forward-thinking and progressive feminists of every color sighing to themselves. Saying, “See, that’s why women can’t have nice things.” Feeling disheartened by yet another moment that illustrates the longtime struggle between Black and White women, in the feminist movement and beyond, to come together.
As I emailed with my MadameNoire editor, Victoria Uwumarogie, about #AttilaTheGrahn, she made it plain. “Grahn’s way of sharing her opinions is [what] makes Black women feel like we can’t stand with White women. Because they don’t fully acknowledge or respect our experiences. And that is a reason some Black women don’t call themselves feminists.”
I won’t go so far as to say it’s not okay or permissible for Grahn, or any woman for that matter, to undervalue the experiences of another woman. The glory of feminism, after all, is wielding and sharing an unshakeable belief that it’s okay and permissible for women to say whatever we damn well please. And that goes for all women, whether or not those women are Black, White or otherwise, and whether or not we choose to quote Harriet Tubman or Harriet Beecher Stowe or Harriet the Spy.
But I will say this: Every woman’s words are permissible, but not all words are helpful. And by “helpful,” I don’t mean positive. I mean productive. And, look, we should know by now–and by “we,” I’m talking to both Black women and White women–that it’s just not productive when women go tit for tat with each other over who has had it worse.
I am not saying that White women need to nod along to everything Black women say or do, or vice versa. But, going back to what I said about the “thin line between not loving a speech and completely disparaging or undermining the speech-giver,” it’s time for White women and all women to stop dismissing each other. (That means: White women dismissing Black women for not having really struggled; Black women dismissing White women for flaunting their privilege; White women dismissing other White women for being too badass; Black women dismissing other Black women for not being badass enough).
Look, I’m not naive enough to suggest that Black women and White women should cease and desist to argue and disagree. No, there are too many dissenting voices, on both sides, that are too valuable for all that can-we-all-get-along jazz.
But I am strident enough to tell White women this: You must be more careful about how you bring Black women into your critiques and conversations and know that being more careful doesn’t make you any less bold. What’s more, the charge to be more careful doesn’t mean that you should stop bringing Black women into your critiques and conversations. In fact, you must keep doing so, as we also will keep bringing you into ours.
In response to Grahn’s critiques about Viola Davis, MadameNoire’s Veronica Wells wrote a great piece that essentially told Grahn to “shut up” (which, I admit, is understandable since Grahn was essentially telling Davis, “You didn’t struggle! You won! Now, shut up and be happy, girl!”).
Still, I wouldn’t go so far as to silence Grahn, or even to tell her “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I would, however, share these words with her that my father always repeats to me:
Be good and, if you can’t be good, be careful.