This entry is a bit earnest and devoid of snark, but you’ll just have to deal with it. Viola Davis is in the upcoming flick Beautiful Creatures, which I’ll probably see because I have a weakness for magical realism and bad YA fiction. While her character, Amma, as originally written as a maid, Viola gave a good “hell no!” to that because playing a housekeeper in The Help was enough for her and, you know, black people can do more than serve white ones.
From CNN’s Marquee Blog:
“I’m tired of that,” Davis told CNN of playing housekeeper roles. “We played – me and Octavia [Spencer], Aunjanue Ellis, Roslyn Ruff – we all played maids in The Help and it was fabulous, it’s a fabulous story because we were personalized and all of those things, but I think that people need to see an African-American in the 21st century integrated in the life of this town and family who’s not in servitude.”
Well, yeah. It’s a shame this is even a discussion in 2013, but unfortunately while things are getting better, we still have a long way to go to so that it’s not weird to see a black lead in a romantic comedy (one that’s not made by Tyler Perry, that is) or as a doctor or lawyer or wife or anything that’s typically chock full of white people. That goes for any minority, really. Hollywood should catch up and realise that people of colour live lives just like white people do, so they ought to be making projects that represent it.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now.
February 8, 2013 at 11:30 am by Jennifer
Now, if I hadn’t given it away in the headline who this gorgeous lady was, do you think you’d have guessed that it was Aibileen from The Help? I sure wouldn’t have. I mean, she was all attractive and what not in the movie, and she looked amazing at the recent awards ceremonies but these photos? These? Got-damn, girl. I think we have a new heartthrob on our hands – one of beauty, substance, and intelligence, too. You know – the best kind.
Viola sat down and did an interview with the LA Times magazine, who talked about her success with The Help and other things like motherhood, Hollywood, and her upcoming role in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
LA Times on Viola’s natural mothering instinct:
Viola Davis is wearing a pair of slipper socks striped in DayGlo pink and purple. They whisper across the floor of her Granada Hills living room as she sings to her newly adopted 19-month-old daughter. Genesis has just woken from her nap, has milk on her face and is still cute enough to be on a baby-food jar. “Heeeeeey, Mama,” Davis coos.
In a voice barely over a whisper, she encourages little Genesis to dance. The baby sways in time to her mother’s singing, grinning widely.
LA on Viola’s part in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close:
She likes to cite an acting tip credited to David Mamet: “If you’re looking at an actor onstage with a cat, who are you going to look at, the actor or the cat? The cat, because the cat is just being a cat.”
Indeed, Davis does make any scene look as easy as a tabby stretching in a sun patch. Her latest role is in the Tom Hanks starrer—and Best Picture nominee—Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which she took to work with actors Max von Sydow and Jeffrey Wright.
How Viola came from a meager background:
She “came from nothing, came from poverty”—one of six children of a horse groom and a maid raised in the hardscrabble town of Central Falls, Rhode Island. “I never had a phone,” she recalls. She once told Charlie Rose that her shoes “always had holes in them.” Central Falls is still so poor it recently filed for bankruptcy. Its struggling library received a $1,000 cash infusion in November. It came from Viola Davis.
And how Viola plans to bring the black lead actress to even more fruition in Hollywood:
“I am doing this out of necessity,” she says. “If I am not the instrument of change, I can meander through this business and be the black woman who always has two or three scenes but with fabulous actors around me.”
To that end, she has optioned The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, a sweeping novel about an African-American woman struggling to farm the Badlands in 1917. She is developing a new picture—a thriller with Spencer as a coproducer—but is always on the lookout. “I have a stack of books in mind,” she says.
It includes a bit of everything—historical dramas, which Davis loves, but also just plain, good literature. “There are great characters in history whose stories need to be told,” she says. “But also, look at this year’s line-up: Melancholia, Young Adult…Someone just had imagination, put pen to paper and created a [whole] human being. That is what I hope for myself…for a number of black actresses.”
All I know is that you’ve certainly made it “here” on Evil Beet – I went ahead and created you your very own category, ’cause I have a feeling that we’re definitely not going to be through talking about Viola Davis for a long, long time to come.