Actress Viola Davis Calls Out ‘Limitations’ Placed on Her Career and Being Told She Was ‘Just There to Nurture the White Lead’
Viola Davis continues to rise in the film industry, while holding Hollywood accountable for the lack of diversity she experienced when starting out.
Davis was at the Harpers Bazaar Women of the Year Awards on Saturday where she accepted her Icon Award, MSN reports. The Woman King actress, Lashana Lynch, presented the film’s leading lady with her award, and Davis received a standing ovation as she walked onstage.
“When the last person who has a memory of you dies, that’s when you’ll truly be dead,” Davis said.
“That means a lot to me because I want to live forever.”
While her speech primarily focused on the importance of building your legacy, Davis also took time to shame Hollywood for how the industry failed to “dig deep” into Black culture when she was starting out as an actress, as noted by Animated Times.
“There is a deficit of stories that women of color are able to access in Hollywood. When I started off as an actor, the scope of what I wanted to do was infinite,” she said.
“It was definitely a big blow to see the limitations put on me in my career.”
Davis has achieved the “Triple Crown of Acting,” where she’s garnered an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Tony Awards. But, the Fences star remembers when she was cast in stereotypical roles during her early days as an actress.
“You’re just there to give the white lead advice, to be the sage, to be the nurturer,” Davis said.
“There is a lack of really digging deep into who we are.”
Accepting the award, Davis remained humble and explained why she embraces her accolades, but still maintains normalcy when at home.
“When I’m at home I don’t feel like an icon,” she said.
“I’m always looking at little Viola who wet the bed and was just trying to find a meal every day and thinking, ‘OK, now I’m an icon?’ I don’t take the honor and run off the stage with it.”
“It’s embedded in my spirit and I use it as warrior fuel to shift the industry so that I’m not the only one anymore.”