Viola Davis on racial bias in Hollywood: Dark-skinned Black women do not have the same freedom as white actresses in the industry.
Hollywood actor Viola Davis opened up about the racial bias in the film industry and told how white actors have it easier than the Blacks when it comes to portrayal of roles in terms of age and opportunities. In an interview with The Telegraph, she told, “Dark-skinned Black women do not have the same freedom as white actresses in the industry. There is still a sense that a woman has to look a certain way and be a certain age in order to be sexual on screen. And if those rules are broken, they’re broken for white actresses only.”
She gave examples of Meryl Streep in Hope Springs and Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give and said that although they are wonderful actors, the same freedom of portrayal has not been extended to Black actors, especially the dark-skinned Black women.
About August Wilson and his plays
The 55-year old actor also spoke about her starring role in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and reflected on the first time she saw the August Wilson play when she was working as an usher at a theatre during college.
“It was like I was watching a famous singer that I loved in private, even though I didn’t even know who Ma Rainey was at all,” Viola said.
About her insecurities
The award-winning having the ‘Triple Crown of Acting’, revealed how she didn’t have any sense of belonging in the arena and felt like she had to make any hint of her ‘Blackness’ disappear.
She said, “I can’t say that I’m not appreciative of my training there, but I did not find a sense of belonging. It was a place that taught classical, Eurocentric theatre as if it was the Bible — and for me, as a chocolate, kinky-haired girl, there was no way in.”
“To perform in Shakespeare, or George Bernard Shaw, or Eugene O’Neill, I felt like what was required of me was to make any hint of my Blackness disappear, that it would somehow be a good thing if the audience could forget I was Black,” she further added.
Viola Davis Transformation
The outstanding actor has an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy and two Tony Awards, being the first African-American to achieve the feat. In fact, she has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in Ma Rainey’s Blacck Bottom. Her next role is as the executive producer for First Ladies, a showtime series in which she’ll play Michelle Obama.
As the film has finally premiered on Netflix, she is working to get in shape for her next film Woman King. For Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the actor had to gain weight to look like the singer. However, her transformation for the next role sparked a controversial debate among fans on sexism and racism. Read more about it here.