All Articles Tagged "Viola Davis"
I’m not going to do a full recap of “How To Get Away With Murder” because I’m tired; but I do want to speak about it a little, simply because I felt like last night’s episode was so Black. And I appreciated the hell out of the writers and actors for making it so.
I don’t have to tell y’all how rare it is to see an authentically Black moment on network television. As much as I love “Empire,” “Scandal” and “Being Mary Jane,” shows that feature Black people, there are few moments where I say to myself “This is my life!” (Doesn’t stop me from appreciating the drama though.)
But last night, there were so many moments that reminded me of Black folk, the good and the bad. There was Ophelia, Annalise’s mother, played by Cicely Tyson, suggesting that she forget the assault perpetuated against her body by her Uncle Clyde. Because that’s what men do, they take things. This could have just as easily been described as a woman’s issue but the notion of suppressing our pain, choosing to talk about only the happy times, or making light of real trauma has been something of a problematic coping mechanism for Black folks in this country, and abroad, for generations.
Then there was the moment where Michaela, discussing Nate’s arrest, asked Annalise: “How are we supposed to be ok with this? He’s innocent…and Black.”
And Annalise responded: “Injustices happen in courtrooms everyday in this country.”
With all the murderers/policemen walking away from the Black bodies they’ve slain unscathed; and in many cases, richer, this comment couldn’t have been any more true, timely and a nod to the very real pain and frustration we’ve been feeling.
But the best and most impactful Black moment, for me, happened as I watched Annalise sit in between her mother’s legs while she parted, scratched and combed her hair. I felt that. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it was beautiful.
Annalise, a grown woman who usually presents togetherness, was not too grown or too together to sit in between her mother’s legs, talking about their troubles.
Black girls turned women across the world know that story. Even though Ophelia was combing far too hard for my tenderheaded scalp, I remember those days crouched on the floor, nestled near the place that brought me into the world. There’s something about being in between your mother’s legs that makes you keenly aware of the natural hierarchy in the house, even if that house is your own.
While I hated getting my hair combed or washed as a child; watching Cicely Tyson rake through Viola Davis’ fro, all I could do was smile with nostalgia and even appreciation at the love and care my own mother put into maintaining me and my sister’s hair.
The moment was only made all the more sweet when Cicely Tyson’s character revealed that while Annalise thought she knowingly let her be raped, she had actually avenged and protected her child. And even though my mother never had to kill anyone for me, protecting her children is what she and all the good mothers do. And I treasured seeing that reflected on television in such a way.
Viola Davis says now that she’s the star of a striving television show, she has princess problems, like being photographed by the paparazzi when she’s not looking her best on her way to Target.
“I literally rolled out of bed and rolled into a Target with [my daughter] Genesis, and the paparazzi caught me. I wore a wool hat and my Jimmy Kimmel sweat jacket. I was just not looking great. But it’s not a big idea. Those are princess problems. In the grand scheme of life, that’s very minuscule to complain about.”
Before “How To Get Away With Murder,” Davis, a two-time Academy Award nominee, wasn’t exactly inundated with meaty roles. While award committees appreciated her work, studio executives didn’t believe she could bring audiences out as the lead in a film.
“There’s the reality of being an actor, especial after two Academy Award nominations, and there’s the fantasy. People oversimplify it by saying, start a production company, get your own stuff going on…as if it’s that easy. I’ve had a production company for years. We have great projects coming up, but it’s been a battle okay? At the same time, you have to stay relevant because you have to be bankable to the foreign market. So when How to Get Away with Murder came along, I had my a-ha moment. I knew it would have a great time slot, and I would be a lead in a TV show. I’d get to play a role that’s sexualized, messy, all those of things I never get to play. And at the same time, I can be relevant.”
Looks like that plan is certainly working like a charm.
So happy for Viola!
This issue of Entertainment Weekly will be on news stands on Friday.
When I think of strong women who are comfortable in their own skin, Viola Davis is actually one of the first people who comes to mind. However, the Academy Award-nominated actress says getting to this place of seeing herself as sexy didn’t happen overnight.
“It feels awesome. It really does. I love it. I went to Julliard in New York and I always tried to be the 90-pound White girl,” she told Essence.
According the Davis, it wasn’t necessarily because she didn’t like herself, but during her time spent at Julliard, many of the women portrayed in classical works were White, small and dainty, which caused her to try to shrink herself.
“Only because we did a lot of classical training and all of the ingénues in Shakespeare were very small women. So I tried to make myself small. Literally. I don’t know how I did that. I was like thinking, ‘Small. Light.’ I would try to have a higher voice, which sounds ridiculous right?”
Because her definition of “sexy” was so narrow, the actress says that she felt she had to hide herself to be portrayed in this light and also, to fit into these roles.
“I felt like there’s only one way to be sexy. It’s almost like I felt like I had to disappear.”
Thankfully, there are folks like Shonda Rhimes and HTGAWM creator Peter Nowalk, who are able to imagine sexy female heroines in various shapes and sizes.
“It feels really good to embrace exactly who I am and be my sexy or be my sexualized. To be my woman, you know? And it’s been the joy of my life. It really has and I think it found me at the right time of my life. When I really am very unapologetic for who I am. That helps other women, too. I think women want to see themselves on TV. I really do. I think we’re in the 21st century, I think we have to woman up. I think a lot of women have womaned up and we want to see ourselves and it feels great.”
“And Shonda Rhimes, too, is the one who is fearless with it,” Davis continued. “You see it with Chandra Wilson, with Sandra Oh, Kerry Washington. She does it. She walks the walk.”
Check out Viola’s full interview here.
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We’re going to try and do a little something different today since “How To Get Away With Murder” has climbed the ranks to be on par with “Scandal” as one of my Thursday night faves. And since most of us watch both shows, it’s only right that I chronicle both episodes from last night. Particularly since, they were both pretty excellent. We’ll start with “Scandal.”
Last night’s “Scandal” took me through a roller coaster of emotions. You may remember the last episode of the season left us with Olivia being inexplicably abducted from her apartment while Jake went to go get a pillow and blanket. Well, yesterday we found out how–but not exactly why that happened.
If you ask me, Jennifer Lopez is at her best when she’s acting. So I was happy to learn that she would be costarring with actress extraordinaire Viola Davis in a new thriller called Lila & Eve.
The movie poster, which features Lopez and Davis in very Pam-Grier-like poses, projects what we can expect from this movie that is described as Thelma and Louise meets Fight Club.
Lila and Eve, directed by Charles Stone III (Drumline, Paid in Full and Mr. 3000), is the story of two mothers devastated by the deaths of their children. When authorities say they are unable to find their murderers, a group of drug dealers, they unite to avenge them.
The film will air at the Sundance Film Festival this Friday night.
Interestingly, the film is produced by JuVee Productions, the company Davis owns with her husband Julius Tennon.
Davis launched JuVee a couple of years ago, with the desire to create and produce projects in which she could star. It looks like the plan is working out.
The film doesn’t have a date for a theatrical release but that may change quickly after it premieres.
There’s no trailer for it yet but Davis and Lopez sat down for an interview with Entertainment Tonight, a year ago to discuss the project. You can watch their interview below.
“Can You Put Me In The Story?” Viola Davis Talks Diversity In Hollywood During Her SAG Acceptance Speech
After the excessively White Golden Globes, we thought the Screen Actors Guild Awards would be more of the same. But fortunately, we were mistaken. Several of our favorite actresses walked away with awards that evening.
Uzo Aduba for female actor in a comedy series and predominately female cast of “Orange Is The New Black,” won for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series. It was so refreshing to see all of those women take the stage last night.
Uzo Aduba delivered a particularly moving speech when she accepted her award.
“I want to say a huge massive thanks to our cast, without whom, this is not possible. I love you guys, so desperately, so much. This is not done without you, at all, any step of the way. I want to thank my friends, I want to thank my family and finally I just really, really truly want to say that the day I got this job was the day I had stopped acting. And to be in a room with all of you amazing human beings, amazing talents, for what I respect and love so much, is really, truly the greatest honor. Thank you so very much. God bless you all.”
You can watch her full speech here.
And when Viola Davis was accepting her award for best female actor in a drama series, she used her daughter as an example for why it’s so important that Hollywood reflect the world in which we live.
“When I tell my daughter stories at night, inevitably, a few things happen. Number one, I use my imagination. I always start with life and then I build from there. And then the other thing that happens is she always says, ‘Mommy, can you put me in the story.’ And you know, it starts from the top.”
Then she thanked Shonda Rhimes and the other “How To Get Away With Murder” producers and creators for “thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old, dark-skinned, African American woman who looks like me.”
And thank you to all the people who love me, exactly how God made me. And that’s my beautiful husband Julius, my 4-year-old daughter at home, Genesis and my mother May Alice Davis. Thank you so much.
You can watch her entire acceptance speech in the video below.
This list of black female stars includes Hollywood veterans like Viola Davis and Nicki Minaj as well as beautiful blossoming stars like Teyonah Parris. We culled up some of the hottest black models on the runway, talented actresses and a few indie crooners making it happen.
Take notes and watch out!
It Girls: 15 Black Female Stars To Watch in 2015
Style To Steal Or Girl, Stop? Stars Who Slayed And Stunk Up The Red Carpet At The 2015 Golden Globes
Another year, and yet another Golden Globes telecast has crept up on us. Every year we tune in for the jokes (who doesn’t love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler?!), for a peek at some really entertaining new movies, and of course, for the fashion. Here are the looks of a few of our favorites. But do you think their style was on point, or way off?
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…