All Articles Tagged "Viola Davis"
“I Have Jumped In Garbage Bins With Maggots For Food:” Viola Davis Reflects On Growing Up In Poverty
Oscar nominee Viola Davis was recently honored at Variety’s 2014 Power of Women Luncheon for her work with the Hunger Is campaign. During the event, the 49-year-old delivered an emotional speech where she discussed her heartbreaking childhood in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
“I didn’t join the Hunger Is campaign to save the world. I set out to save myself. You know, they say that you’re never too old to have a happy childhood. And although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty. I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn’t know where the next meal was coming from, and I did everything to get food,” she shared.
The “How To Get Away With Murder” actress went on to reveal that things were so bad, she sometimes went through trash receptacles to locate her next meal.
“I’ve done everything to get food. I have stolen for food. I have jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food. I have befriended people in the neighborhood, who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food, and I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame.”
Viola went on to shed light on how common food-poor households are in America and expressed that her goal is to eradicate childhood hunger.
“I always say that the little girl who is hungry is always with me,” she said in Variety’s cover story. “I feel like why not use any kind of power I have to serve. There’s a famous saying that ‘to serve is to love.’ I don’t want my tombstone to just say I was a series regular and Oscar nominee.”
Watch her emotional speech below.
“I Was So Desperate For People To Think I Was Beautiful”: Viola Davis Reveals She Wore Wigs For Years Because Of Alopecia
In an interview with Vulture, Viola Davis revealed something about herself that many people probably didn’t know. The reason the Academy Award nominated actress wore wigs so often for years was because she was dealing with the trauma of alopecia areata. The condition causes round patches of hair loss and can possibly lead to complete hair loss, a loss that usually occurs mainly from the scalp. Here’s what she had to say about not feeling comfortable at that time in her life, and eventually having the option of wearing a wig when she wants, as opposed to wearing it because she felt she had to.
When Davis was 28, she lost half her hair to alopecia areata. “I woke up one day and it looked like I had a Mohawk. Big splash of bald on the top of my head,” she says. “I was like, What is this? Until I found out it was stress related. That’s how I internalized it. I don’t do that anymore. My favorite saying in the world is, ‘The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.’ I am telling you, I have spent so much of my life not feeling comfortable in my skin. I am just so not there anymore.”
After that alopecia, she wore a wig everywhere. “I wore a wig in the Jacuzzi. I had a wig I wore around the house. I had a wig that I wore to events. I had a wig that I wore when I worked out. I never showed my natural hair. It was a crutch, not an enhancement … I was so desperate for people to think that I was beautiful. I had to be liberated from that [feeling] to a certain extent.” So at the 2012 Oscars, she exposed her “natural hair.” She still has her wigs; she wears them on Murder, she wears them to photo shoots, she wears them when she doesn’t have time to pick out her hair and get rid of her grays, but she no longer wears them in her everyday life. What matters, she says, is that “it’s an option … when it used to never be an option. I had something to hide.”
And we love the liberated Viola. Check out her full interview and learn more about her journey as a woman and an actress over at Vulture.
Welcome to our weekly column, Reset. Written by Karen Taylor Bass, this column, published each Tuesday, is about life lessons learned and mastered mentally, spiritually, and physically and how they contribute to a successful life and career.
Viola Davis, the star of the runaway hit, How To Get Away with Murder, is using brand consistency to set Hollywood on fire while pressing RESET and slaying the competition on the small screen.
This game of life requires you to be confident and consistent. If you say you are the best, then bring it. Show your successful projects, letters of recommendations and praises from your (former) employers and colleagues and never be afraid to be your own advocate and hype-woman.
The competition to secure an opportunity can be challenging. Black women, entrepreneurs and small business owners must deliver a congruous and confident brand each time. My definition of branding: a consistent feeling, image and experience desired from a product conveyed to the general public. Basically, you are your own brand.
Enter brand Viola Davis: talented actress, Academy award nominee, producer and mom. She is the unlikely next big star as it relates to her age and skin complexion in a “traditional beauty” obsessed world (according to some misguided columnists). However she is a baaadasss, proud, confident and winning.
Her debut role as Tonya in August Wilson’s “King Hedley II“ on Broadway scored her a Tony award and set her in motion as an actress and she has been working ever since. Brand Davis has allowed her talent to take center stage and cement by simply being herself.
Davis isn’t the “standard beauty” that Hollywood seems to crave, and she isn’t being raved about in mainstream media as much as other uber-waif and cosmetically-enhanced actresses, but Brand Davis is a one-woman show oozing with determination, talent, and sister girl appeal. Her brand is strategic, smart, unconventional, powerful, authentic and well liked.
As savvy women we must learn from Brand Davis to love the skin we are in to attract the big break. How many of us miss the mark because we don’t believe in our gifts? Is it because we are busy worrying about the competition, or is because we lack confidence as it relates to our talent? All you need to succeed is within you and press RESET.
Start your campaign of brand confidence and consistency today. Trusting that you have what it takes to win; showcase your character and knowledge to stand out; deliver to your job/client what you pitch; and display the confidence to make it happen.
Here are my tips to get you started and press RESET:
-Define yourself and love who you are by your standards (warts and all).
-Do your research as it relates to the marketplace. What can you bring differently to the job/contract?
-Show up to win; it’s all an attitude and mindset.
-Have fun and enjoy each moment of life.
What are your strategies for winning? Let me know your thoughts.
Karen Taylor Bass, The PR Expert and Brand Mom provide entrepreneurs, corporations, and mompreneurs with essential branding, marketing, and public relations coaching. Follow Karen @thebrandnewmom on Twitter.
When that New York Times article about Shonda Rhimes, “How to Get Away with Murder,” and Viola Davis’ beauty came out, people were rightfully outraged. The article was full of backhanded compliments with a touch of unknowing (?) racism. Talk show hosts have spoken about it. Think pieces have been written, slamming the Times for their negligence, and a hashtag was created challenging that problematic phrase “less classically beautiful.”
But what did Viola Davis have to say about all of this? We know she quoted Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise ” in a tweet. But last week, before the premiere of her new show, she spoke with Rosie Perez and Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” extensively about the show and her reaction to the piece. Here’s what she had to say.
How Shonda got her to take on this television role
It was easy to get me to do this tv show. All the roles I’ve ever gotten, you’ve seen the roles I’ve gotten. They’ve been wonderful but so many of them have been downtrodden. They’ve been women who are pretty much asexual, they haven’t been realized, they have careers but no names. And all of a sudden I was given this opportunity to play someone sexy, mysterious, someone complicated. And it was a chance to use my craft. It was a chance to transform. It was a chance to surprise myself and the public. And I took it.
I know so many actors in their careers, their seventies, eighties, fantastic actresses of color who have never been given this opportunity. I’m so thankful that it came to me at this point in my life.
Rosie Perez commends her for her performance of this character saying that in it, Davis is intelligent, fierce and sexy.
I see myself as those things in my life but I very rarely have seen people who are a physical manifestation of me on the screen. When I was younger, it was people like Cicely Tyson and Diahann Carroll and Madge Sinclair who made me believe I could do it. And then somewhere along the line, they disappeared.
Once again, I’m glad that Shonda Rhimes saw me. That she saw me and she took me in.
When I did an interview with Oprah, I said ‘No one’s ever going to cast me in a sexy role’ and Shonda looked at that interview and said ‘Why not?’ And I’m glad she said why not. I think that’s what makes her a visionary. That’s what makes her special, that’s what makes her iconic.
Whoopi says Shonda casts herself and that’s why she was able to see Viola. But other people don’t get it.
I think that beauty is subjective. I’ve heard that statement my entire life being a dark skinned Black woman. Points to Whoopi You know what I mean. You hear it from the time you come out of the womb. And classically not beautiful is a fancy term of saying ugly and denouncing you, erasing you. It worked when I was younger, it no longer works for me now. It’s like Ruby Dee said, that she wanted that beauty, that hard to get beauty that comes from within, strength, courage and dignity. And what you’re seeing now are so many Black women came out after that article and they used the hashtag “not classically beautiful” or whatever and they’re showing their face and they’re stepping into who they are because they’re teaching a culture how to treat them and how to see them. Because really, at the end of day, you define you. You define you.
My love for Viola is on swole after seeing this interview. It’s one thing to be talented but it’s even more impressive when that talent comes with substance, an authenticity and a willingness to inspire others. She really is a gem, as beautiful inside as she is outwardly.
You can watch her full segment on “The View” in the video below.
This is how you start a new show: with a bang. “How To Get Away With Murder” had our jaws on the floor. And watching Viola Davis walk into that room in that oxblood, leather jacket, life was given. I enjoyed the show so much, I figured it’s worth discussing, particularly since there was such hubbub about it before it ever even premiered. And while people kept shouting out Shonda last night, in an attempt not to repeat just one of the New York Times’ errors, it is worth noting that Shonda did not create “How To Get Away With Murder,” Peter Nowalk did.
Viola Davis Talks Audiences Embracing “A Woman Of A Certain Hue” For Her Lead Role In “How To Get Away With Murder”
Hollywood has lauded Viola Davis for her unforgettable supporting actress roles. No matter the character, Davis has become the glue that holds together the cast and script. Despite never receiving the role as a protagonist, Daviss gift of transforming into memorable characters always leaves audiences astounded. Although the film industry has yet to make Davis into a leading lady, the Oscar-nominated actress is preparing sweep the nation as the new head actress in charge for television. Premiering as Professor Annalise Keating in ABC Network’s “How To Get Away With Murder,” Davis will play a sharp law professor who helps her students win cases no matter what. That’s how Professor Keating finds herself involved in a crime and love triangle since using her sexuality as her master weapon.
In a featured interview with the New York Times, Davis talks about never being given the opportunity to play such a role before and the uncertainties surrounding mainstream America receiving her as such a character. She also discusses how her childhood shaped her work ethic as an actress:
On The Typical Roles She Receives
Davis earned her second Oscar nomination but soon enough returned to playing yet another government functionary or military officer. “I have been given a lot of roles that are downtrodden, mammy-ish,” she said. “A lot of lawyers or doctors who have names but absolutely no lives. You’re going to get your three or four scenes, you’re not going to be able to show what you can do. You’re going to get your little bitty paycheck, and then you’re going to be hungry for your next role, which is going to be absolutely the same. That’s the truth.”
What Viewers Can Expect From “How To Get Away With Murder”
Davis plays Annalise Keating, a flinty, stylish defense lawyer and law professor who employs her top students to help her win cases. After those students become entangled in a murder plot on their Ivy League campus, viewers will wonder whether Keating herself was involved in the crime. Davis plays Keating as cerebral and alluring, a fierce taskmaster who uses her sex appeal to her advantage, with a handsome husband and a lover on the side. It’s the kind of woman, in other words, that she has never gotten to play.
Her Uncertainty About Being Received As Professor Keating
“How to Get Away With Murder,” which includes Shonda Rhimes among its executive producers, will be shown on Thursday nights after Rhimes’s two hit series, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” a generous lead-in that the network hopes will result in an instant hit. But that will depend, in part, on whether viewers embrace Davis — “a woman of color, of a certain age and a certain hue,” as she says — in her new capacity. “I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this. And you can’t even mention Halle Berry or Kerry Washington,” she told me, referring to two African-American stars with notably lighter skin.
What Drives Her Work Ethic As Black Actress
Davis is known for her meticulous preparation. She spent four months studying for her eight minutes in “Doubt.” For “The Help,” she imagined Aibileen’s childhood, her aspirations and even her love life. Davis’s own back story explains much about the actress she has become. Born on her grandmother’s farm, a former plantation in South Carolina, she was raised in Central Falls, R.I. As one of the few black families in town, Davis and her five siblings grew up enduring vicious taunts. “Constantly being called ‘black ugly nigger’ — those words together,” she said in the 2011 documentary “Dark Girls.” Her father was a horse trainer, her mother worked in a factory and as an occasional maid and Davis remembers being so hungry that she sometimes stole food from the grocery store and rummaged in garbage cans for scraps; her shoes had holes in the soles, and her braids were secured by the plastic clips that seal up loaves of bread. “We sometimes used lard for moisturizer because we couldn’t afford lotion,” she recalled. “I smelled like chicken when I went to school.”
To read Davis’s entire interview, click here.
There are many reasons to look forward to the upcoming fall television schedule and one of them is Shonda Rhimes’ Thursday Night Takeover on ABC. The television producer has millions of viewers ready for a new season of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” and her latest creation, “How To Get Away With Murder,” has garnered a lot of buzz before the first episode has even aired.
“How To Get Away With Murder” will debut Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. ET, following “Scandal’s” season 4 premiere at 9 p.m. ET. and “Grey’s Anatomy’s” 11th and final season premiere at 8 p.m. ET.
In anticipation of these upcoming episodes, here’s a look at the Black women who have made Thursday night must see TV. For more on these shows and their stars, head over to XFINITY CelebrateBlackTV.com.
Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday nights on primetime television. This upcoming fall season, the Chicago native will have three shows airing on ABC. Growing up, Rhimes showed an affinity for storytelling and working as a hospital volunteer in high school peaked her interest in the medical field and would come in handy later on in life when creating several of her shows. After penning the scripts for HBO’s “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” and “Crossroads,” Rhimes created “Grey’s Anatomy” and it aired as a midseason replacement in 2005. The show became an instant hit and soon it spawned the spin-off “Private Practice.” But it was “Scandal,” a political thriller set in Washington D.C., that really put Rhimes on the map. This fall her latest show “How To Get Away With Murder” is set to premiere starring Viola Davis .
“It’s not positive images of Black people that we need, but complex ones.” – Teyonah Parris
The tense debate about the representation of Black women in entertainment is not new. It has been a hot-button issue since the beginning of modern film and television. From the controversy over The Color Purple and the outrage over acclaimed actress Viola Davis being nominated for an Oscar for playing a maid, to the hype surrounding Olivia Pope “handling” primetime television and Gabrielle Union bringing the lovestruck crazy as Mary Jane Paul, we have been at a war of sorts over our image. We’ve been at said war with one another, with the writers, with the actresses themselves and with those who hand out the Oscars and the Emmys. We get extreme images that either display the really good or the really downtrodden (and I’m not bringing up reality TV because there are so few positive images): Clair Huxtable or Precious. Vivian Banks or Kizzy. We’ve not seen or embraced anything remotely close to complex characters on a consistent basis until recently, and I, for one, am thrilled about this new interest in and push for complexity.
It’s a welcomed change. It’s high time we acknowledge the multi-faceted Black woman. She is loving, angry, confused, ambitious, intelligent, greedy, giving, depressed, faithful, needy, searching, joyful, fly, pleasant, messy, neurotic and becoming. It’s reaffirming for me to see this type of woman portrayed because I have been and can be all of these things. This Black woman is relatable for me and I know it will be for my future daughters. In this time, the Digital Age where so much of our lifestyle, social interaction, and ideals are informed more by entertainment than ever, more true-to-life representation is necessary to balance the skewed view that many young Black girls are growing up with. Sure, I’ll teach my daughters that it is possible to be a wife, mother AND businesswoman. But I will also teach them that sometimes bad relationships happen. How excellent would it be if they were able to recognize such a spectrum in what they see on television too? If what they saw on television was more reflective of our real emotions, issues, triumphs and struggles? We are just now breaking through the barriers and producing content that will help us, and the generations after us, see a vast number of Black women onscreen, as well as young Black girls too. Doc McStuffins, Princess Tiana and Penny Proud paint a subtle but solid picture of what/who Black girls are and what they can become in the developmental stages. I could have shed tears when I walked into Target and saw a Doc McStuffins costume! We are beginning to pair the the telling with actually showing our girls (and ourselves) what diversity within our Blackness, and as women, looks like in entertainment. Now we can consistently view ourselves just as varied and adaptable for all stages in life. To me, this proves very valuable for Black women and girls and I am ecstatic.
My daughters will have me to look up to, but also diverse images of WOC in their books and on their televisions that we can have open, honest and stimulating conversations about. This will be a good change from only looking to either the perfect or the downtrodden caricatures that Black women on-screen have been made to bounce between for too long.
With complex Black women characters like Nia Long as the politically savvy Billie Page in WeTV’s new drama series “The Divide,” Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson, a top law firm executive trying to maintain her spot as the only WOC at her level on USA’s hit show “Suits,” or the highly-anticipated arrival of Annalise Keating in “How To Get Away With Murder,” starring Viola Davis as the charismatic and seductive professor, we are getting to see ourselves onscreen as composite and colorful as we are in reality. Because regardless of what we say, entertainment is a large part of our lives collectively. Pushing for the range of our stories to become available in these spaces of entertainment for all to see is half the battle. We, as Black women, are starting to win and I, for one, am excited about what the future of entertainment holds for us.
La Truly is a writer, college professor and young women’s empowerment enthusiast. She mixes her interest in social and cultural issues with her life experiences to encourage thought, discussion and positive change among young Women of Color. Follow her on Twitter: @ashleylatruly and check out her site: www.hersoulinc.com.
Earlier this year, we told you that Viola Davis had been cast to play an adulterous law professor in Shonda Rhimes’ in newest ABC thriller, “How To Get Away With Murder.” In case you missed it, the seasoned actress will be playing Annalise Keating, a ruthless criminal defense professor who, along with her flock of students, finds herself in the middle of the campus’ shocking murder plot.
“Annalise Keating is everything you hope your Criminal Law professor will be – brilliant, passionate, creative and charismatic,” ABC describes her character. :She’s also everything you don’t expect – sexy, glamorous, unpredictable and dangerous.
As fearless in the courtroom as she is in the classroom, Annalise is a defense attorney who represents the most hardened, violent criminals – people who’ve committed everything from fraud to arson to murder – and she’ll do almost anything to win their freedom. On the surface, Annalise seems like she has it all – a successful career and loving husband, Sam (Tom Verica) – but her relationship with a local Philadelphia detective, Nate (Billy Brown), will force her to confront secrets about her life she never saw coming.”
This may be the Academy-Award nominated actress’ most scandalous role to date, but apparently Viola is “here” for all of the messiness that is Annalise Keating!
“I love the fact that she’s messy and mysterious and you don’t know who she is,” Viola was quoted telling reporters by the Associated Press.
“I think as human beings we are a mess,” she continued.”But a lot of times the narratives we see in TV, film or even theater don’t match the mess. I think that’s a challenge for any writer, any artist, to match the art with the mess of what we call life. And that’s the appeal of this character.”
“How To Get Away With Murder” premieres Sept. 25. Will you be tuning in?
Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise
I don’t know about you, but I watch New York Undercover on YouTube like it came out last night. I was a huge fan of the show when it used to come on after Martin and Living Single on Fox on Thursday nights, and I’m still holding out hope that the show will be released on DVD soon. Until then, I catch up on episodes online and find myself surprised by all the now-famous faces I see getting their start as actors (or just getting that young paycheck in between roles) on the show. I thought I would share a few with you. Here are 10 famous folks who had a role on New York Undercover back in the day and you probably didn’t notice.
Taye Diggs – “No Greater Love”
The Brookly-bred actor who mostly talks about his days on Broadway in RENT before getting his big break in Hollywood had a role on the show in 1996. He played Stephon Phillips, the brother of a young man gunned down whose death he’s out to avenge. With his puffy Tommy Hilfiger coat, earrings and Brooklyn accent, Diggs was actually pretty convincing as a gun-toting hoodlum. Check him out at the 1:10 mark.