All Articles Tagged "Viola Davis"
The night of the premiere, I decided not to watch Being Mary Jane. I saw the hash tag all up and through my Twitter timeline with all sorts of comments as people followed the storyline. I didn’t want other opinions clouding my thoughts as I watched. So, I waited a day, found the show online, and watched in solitude.
The original movie-turned-show chronicles the life of Gabrielle Union’s character, Mary Jane Paul. She’s a largely successful television news anchor who is gorgeous, smart, and wealthy, but who is quite unlucky in love and unfortunately is the sole breadwinner for her entire family.
I watched with baited breath praying that the acting would not suck – it did not. Neither was the storyline dull or unrealistic. In fact, it was so realistic, I found myself laughing throughout, remembering similar instances in my own life. I enjoyed it from the opening post-it note to the ending booty call, because although it might not be a squeaky clean portrayal of a black woman – it’s an honest one.
I can fully appreciate Mary Jane for the same reasons I appreciate Kerry Washington’s portrayal of Olivia Pope in Scandal - the unmitigated honesty. The typewritten disclaimer at the beginning informed viewers that the show isn’t trying to account for the lives of every black woman everywhere…just one. The show doesn’t seek to lump all black women into one group of romantically challenged workaholics, it just lets us follow one woman who is trying to navigate that space in her life. A life full of choices to be made. Sometimes she gets them right, and sometimes she gets them wrong. You know, like a human being?
I saw glimpses of myself or people I know throughout the storyline. Who hasn’t gone back to the man who is no good for them but feels so good to them? Who hasn’t fought for a cause they truly believe in on their job only to be shot down? Who hasn’t flooded themselves with messages of affirmation and encouragement? Who hasn’t tidied their whole house and gotten “effortlessly” sexified in a matter of minutes before inviting their boo inside? And yes, who hasn’t employed the quick “squat-and-wash” method of washing up before an impromptu hot date?
I screamed when Mary Jane was Facebook chatting with her ex. More than once I have started typing, then rethought it and deleted, started again, then deleted it again only to end up with coy one or two-word answers – trying to tailor my responses to get the responses I wanted from a guy – whether via Facebook chat or text message.
My point is – I wasn’t mad at the creators of the show for displaying a truth that many of us won’t admit to living. I was thankful, in a way, for being shown that I’m not the only one who wrestles with some of these issues.
While people have a right to dislike any work of art they choose, I noticed that most of the criticism of Mary Jane (which was luckily not a lot) stemmed from a belief that it showed black women in a poor light. It’s the same mentality that met Viola Davis when she decided to play Abilene in The Help. It’s the mentality that black actresses are not allowed to show the whole truth. Just the pieces that sparkle and smell clean. If the image isn’t 98.7 percent positive, we get uncomfortable.
My response? We have got to get over the fear of telling the truth about ourselves individually and collectively. One person’s truth doesn’t necessarily blanket a whole race. And if art reflects life then for goodness’ sake, allow it to. I’d like to take for granted that most people are smart enough to watch television without coming away with all-encompassing thoughts about an entire group of people from ONE television show. While I love watching Scandal, I believe that anyone who draws the conclusion from the show that all black women are looking to be mistresses to white men are incredibly unintelligent human beings with no real right to voice their opinions. Just saying.
Being Mary Jane seems to be a story of trajectory framed in a way that many women of color will be able to appreciate. And, hey, it debuted with four million viewers so I think that signifies a win with some longevity. There are layers in it and the character as there are in our everyday lives and I’m excited to see what is revealed throughout Mary Jane’s journey.
Last night, Alfre Woodard, Gabrielle Union, Phylicia Rashad and Viola Davis sat with Oprah Winfrey to discuss the ins and outs and ups and downs of navigating Hollywood as women of color on Oprah’s Next Chapter.
With such an array of talents and accolades in one room it was most intriguing to watch the discussion of everything from how inconsistent work can be, to leaving within their means in such a volatile industry, to supporting fellow Black actresses.
Gabrielle Union, wo was essentially Oprah’s reason for this particular installment of Next Chapter, revealed quite a bit about her internal struggle with her mean girl demons and expounded upon the jaw-dropping-ly honest speech she gave during an ESSENCE luncheon earlier this year. When receiving the Fierce and Fabulous award, Union recounted how she had been only pretending to be fierce and fabulous for much of her life. She uncovered how she had at one point torn others down to feel better about herself.
“I had to really examine all of the choices I’ve made as an adult and what I like and don’t like,” she said. “And there was a lot I didn’t like. So from that point in like, my early thirties, I started really living my truth and my words matched my actions.”
An always timely message for women of color, and actually just women in general, as the “crabs in a barrel” mentality is one that seems to pervade in many parts of our lives, as if we all can’t succeed and shine together.
It was interesting to see the reactions of the older women because it was clear that they came up in a different era entirely, one where fierce support of each other reigned supreme. The differences were very evident as Viola Davis spoke of refusing to apologize for herself and of being “pathological about being supportive. To anybody.” She also spoke of how Black writers in Hollywood seem to only want to write characters that are not flawed, or show the ugly side of humanity because they are afraid of how they will appear to others.
Phylicia Rashad, in all her regal elegance, gave insight into the truth of The Cosby Show, remembering how many believed it was not a realistic portrayal of Black America at the time, when it absolutely was, in fact.
“I grew up in Houston, Texas in the third ward and it was very realistic. And it wasn’t just realistic in Houston, Texas – it was realistic in Charlotte, North Carolina, in Atlanta, in New York, in Richmond, in Hampton… It was realistic in a lot of places…I guess it just depends on (who you know) and what you know. People will always have something to complain about. [It goes back to] knowing your life and who and what you are. You can stand in that and it doesn’t really matter.”
The discussion covered a range of topics including light skin v. dark skin which segued perfectly into the “Dark Girls” documentary that followed. Twitter rang out, praising the OWN Network for sitting these beautifully talented women down to discuss their truths and change.
Check out videos from last night’s discussion. What did you think?
“We Haven’t Healed”: Gabrielle Union, Phylicia Rashad, Viola Davis, Alfre Woodard And Gabrielle Union Talk To Oprah About Colorism Issues
On the upcoming episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter this Sunday, Viola Davis, Gabrielle Union, Phylicia Rashad and Alfre Woodard sit down with lady O to talk about the issues they face as black actresses. But with the premiere of the documentary Dark Girls coming up after the episode, Oprah decided to ask the women what affect colorism within the black community has had on them and if they notice light skin/dark skin issues promoted by non-black folks in Hollywood. In a quick preview of the upcoming episode, the women say that it plays a big part in not only what they do in Hollywood but in every aspect of their lives:
Oprah: Is that still a major part of the way people think in this town?
Alfre Woodard: Yeah. In this town and in our communities.
Viola Davis: I still feel like that’s what we’re fighting. Healing from the past. I think that it affects everything we do. It affects our relationships, it affects our art.
Oprah: But that comes from us. Doesn’t it?
Viola Davis: But that’s what I’m saying, we haven’t healed from that. We just haven’t.
Phylicia Rashad: Well Lord, goodness how long is it going to take!?
Be sure to tune into Oprah’s Next Chapter this Sunday at 9 p.m. and stick around after the fact to watch Bill Duke’s much talked/hyped about documentary, Dark Girls. What do you think of what they had to say, especially Viola Davis, about the colorism issue?
Check out the preview on the next page!
Viola Davis On Competition In Black Hollywood: ‘If You Throw A Piece Of Cheese In A Room Full Of Rats They’re Going To Claw At Each Other’
It feels as if we’ve been waiting a long time for this kind of discussion to happen on the OWN Network and now, it’s finally here. On Sunday night at 9 pm Oprah will be sitting with Alfre Woodard, Gabrielle Union, Philicia Rashad, and Viola Davis to discuss the internal and external struggles of being Black, female, and an actress.
This conversation proves to be very open and honest as one clip shows Union stating, “I was a mean girl from about 8 years old.” But Viola Davis takes the rawness one step further, discussing the lack of diverse roles for Black women as opposed to the laundry list of options available for Caucasian actresses. She argues the competition is only natural when there are a limited number of roles for African American women.
Check out a sneak peek of Viola’s comments about the rift between black women in Hollywood. What do you think about her suggestion that it’s natural and we are actually in crisis mode in Hollywood?
These Gals Rock: Viola Davis And Kerry Washington Team Up To Star In On-Screen Adaption Of “Third Girl From The Left”
According to the good folks over at Shadow and Act:
Guess who is working together on the big screen this year? Two of our favorite actresses, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis, are teaming up to help bring to life Third Girl From The Left, a book by Martha Southgate about “three generations of African-American women struggling against all odds” to express themselves and how they cope with the discord occurring in their family. The film will be produced through the 11th annual Fast Track program for the Los Angeles Film Festival, which is a program connecting filmmakers with the right industry professionals to help their projects come to form. Here’s a more thorough description of the synopsis of Third Girl From The Left from S&A:
THIRD GIRL FROM THE LEFT is the story of the other side of Hollywood in the 1970’s, of what it means to be black, s*xy, smart and full of dreams in a land where “blaxploitation” is as literal as it sounds. Yet this is not a ‘black’ story. This is a vivid and dynamic story about families, all families; and not just the ones we’re born into, but the ones we make for ourselves. It is a compelling saga of love, family secrets and the ambitions of mothers and daughters. It is also a story about the movies and the hold they can have on us, sometimes even despite our better judgment. Angela Edwards, is the shining center of the film, around which we deftly shift points of view, weaving the stories of her mother Mildred and daughter Tamara. Angela and Mildred clash in the way mothers and daughters often do, but manage to forge a bond during many afternoons spent together at the local cinema. Angela yearns to be onscreen herself and eventually leaves her stifling hometown of Tulsa for Hollywood in 1972. It does not live up to her imagination. She does not make it big. Instead, she lands bit parts in campy blaxploitation pictures. In a world where sexual favors to men in power are commonplace, even roles like these require young actresses to offer up more than talent in order to get the gig. Angela dutifully complies. Angela doesn’t become a star, but the allure of movies has marked her for life, just as it did her mother, and just as it will her own daughter.
Definitely sounds interesting. And with these two ladies attached to it (it’s not clear yet which role Davis and Washington will have), I can’t see it being anything but a thought-provoking piece of work, and a success. It remains to be seen who will direct the film and what other actors will be attached to it, but we’re excited nonetheless!
First Look: Alfre Woodard, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad And Gabrielle Union On ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ Special
Look at these gorgeous black women together all in one place. Next Sunday, the OWN network will air a special of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” centered on African American women in Hollywood and Oprah is inviting some of our favorite actresses along for the discussion. Alfre Woodard, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad and Gabrielle Union will all take part in the dialogue, discussing the challenges, criticisms, and competition they face as African-American women in the entertainment industry.
The in-depth convo will appropriately lead up to the world television premiere of the documentary “Dark Girls,” which answers the question we all already know the answer to: Is life different for women who are darker than most? Check out a sneak peek of both specials in the video above.
The back-to-back episodes will air Sunday, June 23, at 9 pm and 10 pm. Will you watch?
In a recent interview, Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis said the public’s reaction to her natural hair had been “huge.”
“I think people admire the boldness of it, and the courage of it,” she told interviewer Kam Williams. “For me, personally, it represents my coming into who I am, not apologizing for it and being comfortable with the way I look. I have been amazed by the testimonies … especially from women of color who have thanked me for it.”
While I too commend Davis for going natural in Hollywood, it struck me as incredibly sad that wearing hair in its natural God-given, or universe-given, or whatever you believe in-given state, would be considered an act of bravery in our day and age, while having long, flowing tresses that were purchased at the beauty shop is the new norm.
It’s true that going natural has become more embraced over the years, but it still represents a rejection of cultural messaging that tells us that silky, straight, and smooth is the standard we should all aspire to. The backlash against natural hair in the corporate world has been well-documented, and the resistance has come from some unlikely sources as well; in 2012, for example, historically black college Hampton University banned MBA students from wearing cornrows and dreadlocks.
The connotations associated with natural hair are often negative and involve terms like “militant,” “wild” and “untamed” – sometimes perpetuated by people wearing natural hair themselves.
Meanwhile, relatives in other cities tell me that weaves and wigs are so common that black hair in its natural state often draws looks of shock and surprise, and it seems that every black female on Reality TV sports a weave that grows longer, fuller and more ridiculous with each episode – think Shay from Love and Hip Hop Atlanta. While reality TV is admittedly exaggerated and sensational, its physical portrayal of black women is troubling because it implies a standard of beauty that requires us to purchase our hair rather than grow it.
While I respect everyone’s decision to wear their hair as they wish, it’s disturbing to see that European standards of beauty have become so deeply engrained in our collective psyche that going natural is considered daring while sporting weaves and wigs is, in many circles, expected.
True, natural hair does not necessarily represent self-love, and wearing a weave is not necessarily a sign of self-loathing. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to a hairstyle; it’s up to each individual to decide what works for them.
But when so many black women – especially those in the limelight — opt for a hairstyle that is as far removed from their natural state as possible, I have to wonder if they are making conscious decisions based on personal preference, or succumbing to societal pressure and conforming to “white is right” standards that border on cultural brainwashing. As Gen. George S. Patton once said, “If everybody’s thinking alike, somebody isn’t thinking.”
Viola Davis, like so many other black women who choose to embrace their natural beauty, is proof that rocking a natural ‘do can be fierce, fabulous and fun. And if she later chooses to forego the natural look because another style better suits her mood, more power to her. As black women, we have many choices available to us when it comes to hairstyles, and we should feel comfortable exploring them all. The fact that so many of us covet what is not ours and reject what is, while accepting our true selves seemingly requires boldness and courage, suggests that we are clinging to a value system that does not value us.
Do you think wearing natural hair requires courage? Sound off in the comments.
March is women’s month, and because it follows on the heels of Black History Month, there’s no better time to talk about a topic that is very important to Black Women — hair care. Here are our top eleven moments in Black Hair care History.
Self-Styled Entrepreneur Madam CJ Walker Makes Her Mark With Black Hair Care Products (1905)
Combining both beauty sensibility and business savvy, Madam CJ Walker (née Sarah Breedlove) built a wildly successful hair empire, around, among other things, the innovation of the pressing comb, which made it more user-friendly for Afro-textured hair (she had the teeth widened for her target market). Ambitious, driven, and dedicated to her company, Madam CJ Walker became the first female self-made millionaire in the United States.
Tags:African American hair, afro, angela davis, Aunt Jemima, black hair, Black Power Afro, carols daughter, Chris Rock, cicely tyson, Good Hair movie, history of black hair, janelle monae, Madam CJ Walker, moments in black hair history, natural hair, Natural Hair Revolution, Viola Davis, Viola Davis at 2012 Academy Awards
CALLING: Actor and activist
WHY WE’RE SALUTING HER:
Viola Davis has made us proud on and off screen through dedication to her craft and the ability to intertwine her passion for improving education into her movie roles, while simultaneously introducing a new aesthetic of beauty to be celebrated in Hollywood.
Though Davis’s name has only recently begun to be heard on the tongues of nearly every prominent figure in the movie business, she’s actually been a strong force in the entertainment industry for some time now. Davis majored in theatre at Rhode Island College, where she graduated from in 1988 — and later received an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from in 2002 — and a year later attended Julliard for four year as a member of the school’s Drama Division’s Group 22 from 1989–1993.
Only a few years later, the St. Matthews, SC, native won her first Tony and Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of a 35-year-old mother fighting for the right to abort a pregnancy in King Hedley II. A number of roles in major Hollywood productions followed that win, including parts in Antoine Fisher, Out of Sight, and Solaris. In 2008, Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Doubt, and a year later she was inducted into The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Just one other year after that, Davis won a second Tony Award for her role as Rose Maxson in a revival of Fences, becoming only the second African American woman to win the award after Phylicia Rashad.
It could be said that in 2011 Davis took on her biggest role yet as Abilene Clark in the movie adaptation of The Help. Despite criticism from some who weren’t interested in seeing Black woman portrayed in a servant role, Davis was lauded for her performance with nominations for Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, and Academy Awards.
It was during the recognition for her role in The Help, that Viola repped for naturalistas everywhere when she hit the red carpet at the 2012 Oscars without her characteristic straight wigs, but with a teeny weeny afro that she was encouraged to rock by her husband. For staying true to herself while still giving her all to her roles on the big screen, we salute Viola Davis.
Click here to meet all of our salutes.
Any time a single, christian woman laments that she’s tired of being single, the answer is always pray and wait on God to send the man he made just for you. Most times the women saying that don’t actually have any proof of that casual approach working, but when Viola Davis tells you prayer works when it comes to finding your mate in life, she knows what she’s talking about.
The star of the flick Beautiful Creatures, which opens in theaters tonight, recently told the NY Post that’s how she got together with her husband, Julius Tennon. Speaking on her marriage to the former college football player who she married in 2003 and adopted a daughter with last year, she said:
“I was the loneliest woman in the world, and someone said, ‘You should just pray for a husband.’ I said I wanted a big black man from the South who looked like a football player, who already had children, who maybe had been married before . . . 3 1/2 weeks later I met my husband.”
Well if that’s not a successful happily ever after story I don’t know what is. Shout out to Viola and Julius on Valentine’s Day!
Do you all know anybody who had their prayers for a man answered that quickly?