All Articles Tagged "Viola Davis"

Read Viola Davis’ Recipe For Conquering Strong Black Woman Disease

February 29th, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
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22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Press Room Featuring: Viola Davis Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 30 Jan 2016 Credit: Brian To/

22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards – Press Room
Featuring: Viola Davis
Where: Los Angeles, California, United States
When: 30 Jan 2016
Credit: Brian To/

When the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences named Viola Davis the winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, they unleashed a dragon — and we’re so happy we did. Ever since the How To Get Away With Murder star spoke about the lack of opportunities for Black women in entertainment openly during the Primetime Emmy Awards, she hasn’t missed an opportunity to expose the different ways in which Black women are not only chosen for roles, but treated once they have them, particularly when it comes to our beauty. And the fact that Davis talking about this issue is groundbreaking news, speaks to what she calls the “strong Black woman disease” and the fact that “We are not given permission to address the things that hurt us,” as she told The Cut in a recent interview on wellness.

Thankfully, Davis is one willing to go against the grain, telling the mag when it comes to her on- and off-camera persona,” You cannot be allowed into my life if the only thing that I am asked to do is play a filtered-down version of a human being.” Check out what I call her recipe for wellness in these snippets from her interview below:

Her biggest wellness struggle

Anxiety. I struggle with relaxing and being completely in the moment. I have a huge problem with that one.

How she copes with her anxiety

At one point my hair fell out. I mean, like this whole side of my hair fell out and then I had a big patch on top of my head. It fell out because of stress and alopecia areata. Try and relieve yourself of that [stress]. You sleep better. There are times when I can’t sleep, and during those times, it decreases the quality of my life. I usually can’t sleep because of anxiety. Just being anxious for tomorrow, anxious about my schedule, anxious about my daughter, and just anxious in general.

On Hollywood struggling with her beauty

It’s very difficult. People just don’t understand our hair because they’re not with us on a day-to-day basis, it’s almost as if they need to be educated. I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve done where I’ve reluctantly said, “Okay, that’s not going to work on my hair, I’m telling you that we’re going to have to do this over again.” They’ll be offended because you’re trying to say that you’re different from us. I am different, but I’m not saying that in a way that’s offensive, I actually am very different from you with my hair.

Lighting is a big issue, too. It changes depending on how dark or light you are. That can be frustrating just on a physical and on a mental level because you’re constantly having to explain yourself. Also it’s a huge issue because sometimes it’s not even about that. There’s sometimes very little exploration into the specificity of the character. You’ll see a Caucasian woman walking into a scene with mussed-up hair, after coming out of the shower with no makeup and it’s not a big deal. But there’s a feeling like we’re not even allowed to do that. There are just so many restrictions.

On cultivating mental health and strength

One of the things that happens with narratives with Black people is that the image and the message becomes more important than the truth and the artistry. That carries on in our lives. We are not given permission to address the things that hurt us. We cover it up with great weaves and talking about all of our accomplishments and if we had something that happened in the past, we overcame it.

It’s that strong Black woman disease and I would like to redefine strength as saying that there are times when we are afraid, there are times when we feel vulnerable, there are times that you can hurt us, and that in and of itself is very powerful. In the future one of the things I encourage Pete Norwalk to do with Annalise in How to Get Away With Murder is to show that as strong as she can be and how vulnerable she can be, I really love when you see her pain. I see that in my mother, in myself, my sisters, and nobody ever talks about it. There’s a shroud of silence, and I wonder where they think all of that pains goes.

On redefining beauty

Just like we have to redefine strength, we have to redefine beauty. It’s not even about beautiful, it’s about being who you are. It’s about being honest. It’s about stepping into This is how I am in private, this is how I look, this is how I act, this is my mess, this is my strength, this is my beauty, this is my intelligence, and then putting it out there that this is who I am. You cannot be allowed into my life if the only thing that I am asked to do is play a filtered-down version of a human being. A filtered-down version is someone who has spent two hours in a damn makeup chair to play someone who’s getting out of bed in the morning.

You can’t keep complaining about not seeing varied roles for Black women if you are not the change you want to see. I’m sorry, it’s like if I’m in the bathtub, then I’m going to be in it with no lashes and with my wig off. If you’re watching, you have to come into my world. But I’m not going to make it comfortable for you to come into my world. That’s my job as an artist. I feel it’s very liberating for Black women. Domestic violence is one of the No. 1 killers of Black women. We suffer from huge anxiety issues. I think it’s because we have to be so strong all the time. We carry it all on our backs. All women do. I think we need to be allowed to say that sometimes we get tired.

Check out the rest of her interview on The Cut. What was your takeaway?

8 More Leaders In The Entertainment Industry Bridging Old School With The New School

February 19th, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
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Last week we shed light on producers and movie and TV directors shaping our cultural landscape with their groundbreaking work, now we’re focusing on those in front of the camera. From Angela Bassett and Viola Davis to Don Cornelius and Nick Cannon, these entertainers have redefined what the mainstream sees as beautiful and helped ensure African Americans always have a platform to be their authentically soulful and talented selves.

Check out the stars who laid the foundation for that expression and the new school entertainers continuing those legacies.

Viola Davis Says The Oscars Aren’t The Problem But Hollywood’s Movie-Making System

January 23rd, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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Adriana M. Barraza/

Adriana M. Barraza/

If anyone is fluent in the adversity faced by minority thespians in Hollywood, it is surely veteran actress Viola Davis.

After this year’s Oscar nominees — which lacked diversity, majority people of color — were announced, many weren’t so thrilled and so the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was birthed. In addition to social media backlash, many minorities in the industry spoke out to share their thoughts on the topic, including Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee.

However, while they spoke directly about the Academy, Viola Davis shared a similar yet different viewpoint, Entertainment Weekly reported. On Wednesday (Jan.20) night at Elle’s Women in Television dinner, Davis said, “The problem is not with the Oscars. The problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system.”

She then quoted on a number of questions that the Academy members — who are majority older, white men — should be asking themselves during nomination time:

“How many Black films are being produced every year?”

“How are they being distributed?

“The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role?”

“Can you cast a Black woman in that role?”

“Can you cast a Black man in that role?”

Personally, I believe that Davis truly hit the nail on the head of what many were trying to articulate in regards to diversity in entertainment, specifically Hollywood. While many are boycotting the Oscars as the premier and affluent affair void of diversity, this issue actually stems from the movie-making system of Hollywood. Plus, this is the second year in a row that minorities have not been nominated in acting or directing roles. Not to mention, many times there are only a handful of black and brown faces in the audience, let alone accepting awards unfortunately.

I think Davis’s mentioning of Hollywood will remind individuals why it’s so important that we have more minorities occupying behind-the-scenes positions and not just in front of the camera. While it seems like those in front of the camera and relishing in the limelight have the power, they honestly don’t. So in short, we have to champion those that are breaking barriers in the industry like Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler and understand their importance, and continue pushing our stories, starring our own people.

And Davis concluded her speech, discussing the longtime hot topic of the gender pay gap, and how it disproportionately affects women of color. “You could probably line up all the A-list Black actresses out there, [and] they probably don’t make what one A-list White woman makes in one film,” she said. “That’s the problem. You can change the Academy, but if there are no Black films being produced, what is there to vote for?”

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Viola?

“I’ve Never Determined My Value Based On My Looks” Viola Davis Covers InStyle Magazine

December 4th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Viola Davis Covers InStyle Magazine

Source: InStyle

Can’t stop, won’t stop. Viola Davis is something like an it girl these days with her hit television show, an Emmy win for that hit television show and even her philanthropic efforts have made her the one to watch.

So it only makes sense, that she’s snatching magazine covers.

Davis will appear on the January issue of InStyle magazine where she talks about not feeling like a celebrity, superstar when she’s running after her daughter Genius.

“Taking care of a 5-year-old, cooking at home and running to the set when you’ve had four hours of sleep, you don’t feel like a movie star. Then, every once in a while, you put something on that makes you feel cute.”

It’s hard to find time to time to be concerned about clothes when you and your daughter spend so much time in outer space…in their imaginations of course.

“We go into space. We explore different planets,” Davis says of the game Genesis is most currently fond of. “This ship is in danger. We almost died at one point. We lost oxygen.”

In fact, she said the compared to her character Annalise Keating, “I have absolutely no style.”

Her style is so simple when she first married her husband Julius Tennon, of 13 years, she wore a skirt from Express. A few years later, they exchanged vows again where she wore a more traditional gown. In their upcoming vow renewal she plans to wear a custom dress by Carmen Marc Valvo.

Lastly, she explained why she’s not afraid of getting older.

“What’s released me most from the fear of aging is self-awareness,” she says. “I’ve never determined my value based on my looks or anything physical. I’ve been through a lot in life, and what has gotten me through is strength of character and faith.”

Bet You Didn’t Know: Celebs Who Own Production Companies

November 23rd, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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Splash News

Splash News

We all know about Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, Shondaland and the empires belonging to Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, but did you know the following stars have production companies?

“I Wish That I Could Tell My Sister That She’s Not Dirty” Viola Davis Shares Sister’s Sexual Assault Story

November 19th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Viola Davis Shares Sister's Sexual Assault Story

Source: Corbis

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. 

Thank you. 

You can watch the full video of Viola’s speech here.

Whoopi Goldberg Comes For Viola Davis: “There’s Been Plenty Of Opportunities”

October 14th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

Whoopi Goldberg was recently interviewed by 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.”

Girl, what?

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.

To Those Who Had A Problem With Annalise Keating Having Sex With A Woman

October 2nd, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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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.

Shonda has explained it ad nauseum.

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’s fascinating.

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.

Viola Davis Addresses Nancy Grahn And Reveals What She & Taraji Said To Each Other That Night

October 1st, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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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.

Role Players And Role Models: TV’s Most Influential Black Women

September 28th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

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.