All Articles Tagged "Viola Davis"
Viola Davis Wins People’s Choice Award For “HTGAWM,” Thanks Shonda Rhimes For “Thinking Of A Leading Lady Who Looks Like MY Classic Beauty”
The People’s Choice Awards took place last night, and one of our favorites, Viola Davis, won Favorite Actress in a New TV Series for her work as Annalise Keating in “How To Get Away With Murder.” Fans of the show, and fans of Davis in general, voted for her to win (as that is how the People’s Choice Awards works…).
When Davis went up to pick up her award, in her acceptance speech, she made mention briefly of that New York Times article that basically said that Davis’ look was far from the “classically beautiful” actresses we usually see on primetime television:
As Annalise, Ms. Davis, 49, is sexual and even sexy, in a slightly menacing way, but the actress doesn’t look at all like the typical star of a network drama. Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, Ms. Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than Ms. Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astronaut on the summer mini-series “Extant.”
When she accepted her award, she thanked Shonda Rhimes, producer Betsy Beers and writer Peter Norwalk for giving her the chance to show off her different kind of beauty, the ‘older, darker-skinned’ kind, to everyday women:
“You know we actors, you know we do it for you. We do it for the fans, we do it for the people. We do it to move you, we do it to provoke you. So thank you so much for this. And thank you Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Peter Nowalk for thinking of a leading lady who looks like my classic beauty…I’m just so proud to be an actor and so happy to do what I do. And I’m so happy that people have accepted me in this role at my stage, at this stage in my career. Thank you so much!”
When that New York Times article first came out, Davis was happy to shut down the “less classically beautiful” line:
“I think that beauty is subjective. I’ve heard that statement my entire life being a dark skinned Black woman…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.”
Isn’t she awesome?
We might have another chance to see Davis pick up a big award (and give an equally touching speech), as she has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in A Television Drama Series. The show airs live on Sunday (8ET/5PT)…
Who else is fiending for “How To Get Away With Murder” to return? Well, we’ll have to continue to wait until January 29 to get our fix (and to figure out what Annalise was really doing the night that Sam was killed). But to hold you over and get you excited in the meantime, you’ll be happy to know that acting legend Cicely Tyson will be joining the show (at the very least, for one episode), when it returns to finish out the first season.
According to Entertainment Weekly, details about what role she will play and how long she will be working on the show are being kept a secret. But Tyson isn’t the only theater great joining “HTGAWM.” Actress Marcia Gay Harden will also have a role on the show when the second half of the season starts up, and details surrounding her inclusion have also been kept on the low.
This isn’t the first time that Viola Davis and Tyson have worked together. Both women played maids in the Academy-Award nominated film The Help. Last year the actress won a Tony for her role on Broadway in A Trip To Bountiful (she was amazing in that by the way), and she is currently nominated for a SAG award for her work in the Lifetime TV movie adaption.
I’m not sure what role Tyson will play, but it would be interesting to see her play the mother of the very calculated Annalise Keating, especially if moms is anything like that Annalise! But we’ll have to wait and see…
The 2015 award season just got a little more exciting as the Golden Globe nominations for next year have officially been announced and we have a number of favorites to root for. Viola Davis, who acted her behind off as Annalise Keating during the debut season of “How To Get Away With Murder,” has been nominated for Best Actress in a TV Drama; Quvenzhané Wallis,who is bringing “Annie” back to life on the big screen next Friday is up for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical; and the civil rights historical drama “Selma,” which hits theaters this Christmas, has already been nominated for Best Motion Picture Drama with David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King Jr., being up for Best Actor. Director Ava Duvernay has also been nominated for “Selma” as has the movie’s lead song “Glory,” by Common and John Legend.
Our top Netflix comedy “Orange is the New Black” is also up for a string of awards, including Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical with Taylor Shilling and and Uzo Aduba being up for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Don Cheadle also snagged another nomination for his role in House of Lies,” and “American Horror Story” fans will be happy to know Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates have been thrown in the mix for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
Check out the full list of Golden Globe nominations here. The show airs January 11, 2015 at 8pm on NBC.
Abi Ishola Responds To New York Time’s Viola Davis Slight With The “Beyond Classically Beautiful” Photo Story
This past September, the New York Times published an article stating Viola Davis was “less classically beautiful.” Davis gracefully responded to the insulting phrase on The View, noting: “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.”In lieu of Davis’ response and Black women creating the #notclassicallybeautiful trend on Twitter, multi-media journalist Abi Ishola launched her own campaigne.
Appropriately titled, “Beyond Classically Beautiful,” Ishloa gathered Black women from all walks of life to share their definitions of beauty and how they struggled with societal acceptance. On her site, Scripts And Sightings, Ishola debuted her photo story with the help of her photographer husband Kunle Ayodeji, makeup artist cousin Yetty Bames, and colleague videographer Duane Ferguson. In the photo story, a poignant message is relayed to viewers: to be classic means to be of the highest standard. Stating what their highest standards are, “Beyond Classically Beautiful” participants said:
Funmi: “Beauty to me is unique. It’s much more than race and gender or color. To me it’s just personality. Loving who you are as a person. I think beauty is just like a flame. It’s an unquenchable fire that comes from within. And you have to just allow yourself to let it flow.”
Christina: “My definition of beauty is feeling comfortable in your own skin and not needing anyone to call you beautiful but when someone does call you beautiful you understand where they’re coming from. If you call somebody a ‘classic beauty’ you’re saying that beauty looks like this one thing, and everything else is outside of what that is, so I don’t believe in classic beauty.”
Nia:“I do not let society’s standards of “beauty” define my life or my decisions concerning my body, my style or any other physical and material elements. I’ve learned to stay true to myself despite what society thinks I should look like or dress like, while at the same time, not letting my physical appearance be the only substance that speaks to who I am and what I have to offer.”
To view Ishola’s entire photo story, read Scripts And Sightings and listen to the participants in the behind-the-scenes of “Beyond Classically Beautiful” below.
It’s no secret that Tracee Ellis Ross is something like a hair icon. With luscious, bouncy black curls it makes a profound statement on television. And that point is not lost on Tracee. But she’s not the only one.
In fact, Black women on television, particularly ABC have been ditching the straight strands. Olivia Pope let her curls flourish when she was standing in the sun with Jake on “Scandal.” Tracee, as Dr. Rainbow Johnson on “black-ish”, rocks her natural hair. And perhaps most memorably, Annalise Keating, at the suggestion of Viola Davis herself, removed her wig before she confronts her husband about his extramarital affairs on an episode of “How To Get Away With Murder.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Tracee spoke about the significance of that moment.
“I think what is important about Viola Davis taking her wig off on How to Get Away With Murder is that it illustrates that there is a mask that women are thought to have to wear. For black women, it can be a more complex mask. Our culture has created a very limited view of what beauty is and can be. I think right now television is one of the places where women are pushing up against that and saying, “You know what? I don’t need to play this game anymore in order to be considered beautiful…What I think is exciting is that to a certain extent, there is a revolution happening where black women are owning their own beauty, despite the standard of beauty that in the past has not had space for it.”
“I think it’s huge that I’m wearing my natural hair texture on ABC in prime time…I’m very conscious of how I wear my hair on the show, and yet it’s the way I wear my hair as Tracee. You hire me, you hire my hair and you hire my ass. It’s all coming with me.”
And the church said Amen.
I think it’s worth mentioning that one commenter on EW‘s site mentioned that Tracee got the opportunity to wear her natural hair as Joan on “Girlfriends.” And as one respondent offered, that’s true but “Girlfriends” was a show targeted to a demographic who was more likely to accept this type of hair. Wearing her hair naturally on that show was like, “preaching to the choir.” (All types of Black church references for you today.) But “black-ish” on ABC reaches an entirely new demographic and audience, allowing Black women to exhibit a different type of beauty, our natural state of beauty, to people who are still largely ignorant.
It’s a good thing.
The other side of the coin though: the only type of natural hair the mainstream and others in the Black community are readily willing to accept, without hesitancy, comes in the loose, curly form more often than not. While the youngest daughter on “black-ish” has hair that is coarser with tighter coils, it’s largely absent in mainstream media. But hopefully, Tracee and Viola and Kerry will help to bust those doors down as well.
I don’t know about you Shondaland fans but for me, “How To Get Away With Murder” has taken the number one spot in my heart. Kind of like the way “Scandal” became more of priority than “Grey’s Anatomy.” (I’m back Grey’s don’t worry.) The show is great. With stellar acting and story lines that keep us on the edge of our seats, it is must-watch television. And since the show has become such a hit, we figured it was only right that the highlight some of the little known behind the scenes information from the show and its actors who portray these compelling characters.
Check it out.
As many episodes of “Law & Order” as there have been, along with the spin-offs over the years, I can understand why trying to get a role on the shows was and still is the thing to do as a burgeoning actor. Even if you’re not a major character (aka, victim, criminal or attorney), you can still get a check from playing something small (a witness, someone who knows the whereabouts of a criminal, the dead body found in the beginning of the show). So many actors and actresses got their start on the show, along with “Criminal Intent” and “Special Victims Unit,” or appeared on it before hitting it big, and we’ve found some of the black ones here:
Samuel L. Jackson
By 1991, Samuel L. Jackson had been in quite a few movies already, even if his parts were small (including Do The Right Thing and Coming To America). In an attempt to build up his resume, Jackson nabbed a role on “Law & Order” in season one as attorney Louis Taggert. He represented a young man (Phillip Seymour Hoffman in his first on-screen role) accused of participating in the gang rape of a TV reporter.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Viola Davis is nothing like her character on “How To Get Away With Murder.” And in a recent interview with The Huffington Post, she explained why.
“Annalise Keating is all over the place. I’m concerned with my health. She just wants power. She wears a heavy duty mask every day, which must be exhausting. I couldn’t do it.”
While her character is certainly flawed, she represents a shift, an achievement in television for Black women.
“She redefined us as something bold and strong. We’re no longer supporting, we’re not necessarily nurturing, we’re not asexual. We’re none of it. And Shonda doesn’t apologize or make a big deal of it. So the viewer simply forgets, and we can all get on with the story.”
And a crucial part of Annalise’s story came when she needed to remove her mask, (the makeup) and wig to confront him about his discretions. It was a moment that resonated with the audience, particularly Black women.
It was Viola’s idea, actually.
“I pushed for that to happen. I said, ‘she’s not going to bed with her wig on.’ It could be powerful and liberating, but she’s got to take her wig off. Because who Annalise is in public is a big, fat lie and we have to see her taking off the armor, which is so thick, it becomes all the more dramatic when she removes it, and you see all the pain.”
Though she pushed for it, Viola still felt exposed when the time came to follow through.
“I did fell vulnerable but still not as vulnerable doing all the sex scenes. When I know members of my family are going to be watching.”
Sex scenes and wig removing, all in a days work with Shonda Rhimes.
How To Get Away With Murder is the top new drama in the ratings this fall. In fact, it’s doing so well it’s topping Scandal.
Deadline adds that Black-Ish is the top new comedy for the season, demonstrating the power of a diverse cast. And there’s the success of a CBS show, Scorpion, which shows audiences are responding to programs that put a variety of actors from different backgrounds in lead roles.
In addition to race, Viola Davis, Annalise Keating on HTGAWM, also stands out for being older than the typical leading lady. (Though if you take a look at shows like American Horror Story: Freak Show and Carol’s character on The Walking Dead, you also see some diversity of age on television these days as well.)
“I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this… a woman of color, of a certain age and a certain hue,” said Davis.
My colleagues here are giving me a bit of the screw face for not being a tremendous fan of HTGAWM; Liv, Fitz, Jake and the Gladiators still put me on the edge of my seat. What are you watching these days?
I thought I had really sworn off ratchet reality TV, but something about seeing famous (or in some cases, semi-famous) Black women come together to create something piqued my interest enough to make me tune into “Hollywood Divas.” Featuring Paula Jai Parker, Golden Brooks, Countess Vaughn, Elise Neal and Lisa Wu, “Hollywood Divas” is a close sister-friend of “R&B Divas.” What I mean by that is, has-been or struggling celebrities of a certain craft come together to become relevant again, constantly listing their credits to validate their current staked claim (READ: struggle).
I’m not sure if I was wrong for expecting a bit more (this IS reality tv), but I was all kinds of confused and disappointed by the rollout of the episodes and the catty/shady behavior of the women on-screen. In my mind, if I’m a struggling actress trying to get my name on somebody’s marquee or credits, I’d come into a collaborative situation with my game face on and my pettiness tucked clean away.
These women don’t think like I do, apparently.
The first two episodes jumped off with tears, fake high-pitched greetings, half-hugs, shade and catty backhanded compliments. One thing that struck me in particular as crazy with a capital C is the fact that Golden Brooks, best known for her role as ‘Maya Wilkes’ on Mara Brock Akil’s groundbreaking show “Girlfriends,” spent every waking moment shading reality stars and blaming them for the reason that “theater-trained” actors with a “certain pedigree” couldn’t get work.
Um, you’re on a reality show now, boo.
She also stated that in order to get work nowadays, actors have to be active on social media with millions of followers. To say that I was annoyed and that I highly disagreed would be the understatement of the year. There are so many examples of actresses, BLACK actresses, who have made it – in RECENT years – based off of their talent and strategic choices in roles not their standing on social media.
Viola Davis, a newcomer to Twitter, gained acclaim because of her work in recent movies like The Help and now her incomparable work as the mysterious and driven Annalise Keating in ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder.” Her Twitter followers are climbing, but it’s not because she’s so active online. It’s her talent.
Though she boasts 1.8 million followers on Twitter, Kerry Washington was on the map before she ever became active on social networks. Having masterfully portrayed Ray Charles’s wife, a former Black Panther, Kay Amin, a slave woman and now political pistol Olivia Pope, she has garnered a fanbase. This fanbase comes not because of selfies and tweets, but because she has put in the work and taken on roles that align with her values and trajectory.
“Soul Food” actress, Nicole Ari Parker, spoke candidly at last year’s Woman Thou Art Loosed “Girl Talk” segment about hearing a thousand nos before hearing the yes’ that have helped her have success.
The bitterness and jealousy seen within the first few episodes of this show has left a bad taste in my mouth, but I’m still hoping for the best. We, as Black women, already have it tough without blaming one another for what we lack. There is room for all of us to shine, we just have to get in where we fit in and be resilient.
I’m hoping “Hollywood Divas” will eventually showcase strengthened friendships, uplifting creative projects, and a positive answer to the portrayal of Black women, but I won’t hold my breath. However, it’s still early, so we shall see…
La Truly is a writer, higher education professional, 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.ashleyjh.com.