Viola Davis Talks Self Care, Aging & What She Wants To Teach Her Daughter

February 24, 2017  |  

It’s award season and you already know Viola Davis, being one of the greatest actors of our time, is out here. In preparation for this weekend’s Oscar’s Refinery 29  asked the actress a couple of questions not only about her beauty regimen but also about self-care. Check out a couple of wise words from one of our favorites.

Self care

“You know what? Especially with women, we are usually the caretakers of everyone except for ourselves. If I don’t take care of myself and I’m taking care of my daughter or my husband or whatever — I’m running on fumes. I have nothing left to give. Nothing. But when I take the time to take care of myself, to go to the doctor, go to a spa, get a deep tissue massage, get adjusted by a chiropractor… I feel like I can face life with a renewed vigor and renewed passion.”

Image: ABC

The natural hair scene in HTGAWM

“Here’s the thing: When I signed onto this show, one of the stipulations was that I wanted to show a real woman. I didn’t want to show an extension of male fantasy… I wanted people to be let into a real woman’s world. Even if it made them feel uncomfortable. I felt it would be disingenuous if I did not do that. And I did feel like it was making a larger statement.”

You walked the red carpet for the first time without a wig at the 2012 Emmys. How did that feel?

“I would not say that I was 100 percent comfortable until I walked onto the carpet. And I’ll tell you why: Number one, I felt like I had to be. Number two, I just wanted to be me. Every time you walk that carpet, the pressure to be your authentic self, but at the same time not stick out… That balance is something we are all trying to reach when we walk out the door every day. How do we fit in, but be ourselves and be true to ourselves?

“But you get to a point in your life when you realize it’s not an option to sacrifice your authentic self to get by, because after a while it’s not you. That’s what I reached at that point. How all the women were standing, what they were looking at, the ‘it’ color… It was way too much pressure to me. It was liberating to be on that carpet on my terms.”

Adriana M. Barraza/

Fluctuating from wigs and natural hair.

“However you want to express your authenticity is fantastic. I don’t think it has to be in you taking your wig off; there’s lot of disingenuous people who wear their natural hair. That was how I wanted to make my statement, but there’s all sorts of ways to make a statement. Sometimes we make it in a very internal way. Whatever floats your boat.”

Many Black models and actresses talk about the pain and micro-aggressions they face in the makeup chair. Do you identify with that?

“Oh my god. I cannot tell you how many makeup sessions had to be canceled when I was doing television shows because as soon as I got in the chair, they realized they couldn’t do it. At first, I was just quiet because I felt I had to be or I’d lose the job. But now I’m at the point that I can’t let people off the hook with that. You just have to learn how to do my hair. It’s different, it requires different products. I’m not trying to insult you. I’m not calling you a racist. But when I’m sitting in your chair, I have a different set of requirements than a Caucasian woman or an Asian woman. I know this is not a good thing because you should always feel like you have a voice, but as soon as my status started rising, I felt more able to speak up. I started saying, ‘This is the makeup I use, this is the shade, this is the number, these are the brushes.’ The first time I did it, I was like, ‘Oh that was easy.’ And then it sort of stayed like that.”

What are your views on aging in Hollywood?

“The only thing I think about in terms of aging is not being there for my daughter who’s just six years old. And the other thing I feel about aging — and this is a big, big, big thing — is my past not counting for anything. When you get older, especially in this culture, you don’t have as much value in terms of your past. People don’t understand: I’ve put in work, I’ve been in this business for 30 years, and all of a sudden… When your past doesn’t count for anything… I don’t mind if my career goes down the drain, it doesn’t bother me, it just doesn’t. But I would not want to feel like I’m not valued.”

I hear you have a pretty intense morning hot tub habit. Tell me about it.

“That part of my day is about me and my husband. We talk and talk and talk. We did it this morning and we’ve done it as long as we’ve been together. When we first met, I was in an apartment that had a Jacuzzi and I really think that made me more attracted to him. He was over at my house all the time. It was a huge part of our relationship. [Laughs] It’s meditative for me.”

Credit: Brian To/

What do you hope to teach your daughter about beauty?

“I don’t care how stereotypical it is, beauty has got to come from the inside. It’s got to come from owning her story — all of it. Her failures, her insecurities, her strength, her joy, all of it. There’s not one she can leave on the side of the road and not claim. That’s all I want for her.

“That’s the worst part of Facebook. And I LOVE Facebook, I love Facebook, I stay on it all the time, but if I had one negative thing to say about it is everyone is the best mother, parent, father, daughter… Everyone has the perfect life on Facebook and that has contributed more to the depression of people because everyone feels like, ‘My life is not like that. I’m doing something wrong.’ But no! Life is about all of the mess-ups and failures and getting back up and loving yourself through all of it.”

You can read the rest of Viola’s article over at Refinery.


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