Viola Davis regrets starring in ‘The Help’: ‘I betrayed myself, and my people’!! Viola Davis is Vanity Fair’s latest cover star, and she’s using the opportunity to address important issues like race and how Black stories are told in Hollywood, particularly when it comes to the legacy of the film that helped gain her mainstream attention.
In her feature, the Oscar-, Tony- and Emmy-winning actress again expressed her regret in taking the role of Aibileen Clark in the 2011 film The Help. Her comments come as the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired many to revisit the film making it one of the most-watched movies on Netflix. Davis was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for playing a Black maid in 1963 Mississippi who helps Emma Stone’s journalist character expose racism in the community. The film, and the book on which it was based, have been accused of perpetuating the “white savior” stereotype while marginalizing Black characters.
“Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity,” Davis explained. “They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but … it’s catering to the white audience. The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were.
“There’s no one who’s not entertained by The Help,” she continued. “But there’s a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn’t ready to [tell the whole truth],” Davis says. The Help, like so many other movies, was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism.”
Davis has always been vocal about the lack of diversity in Hollywood and recently went viral when a clip of her from the 2018 Women in the World event talking about the inequities between her and actress Meryl Streep despite their similar credentials resurfaced. In Vanity Fair, she also named Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon and Kristen Stewart as other white actresses that have had “a wonderful role for each stage of their lives, that brought them to the stage they are now.” But she argues that same cannot be said for actors of color.
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“Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity,” says @ViolaDavis, who’s set to star as Michelle Obama and blues legend Ma Rainey in upcoming projects. “They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but…it’s catering to the white audience. The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were.” At the link in bio, the Academy Award winner speaks to @soniasaraiya about championing Black stories, her journey to Hollywood, and what she hopes her company, JuVee Productions, will provide to young non-white actors. Story by @soniasaraiya Photographed by @dario.studio Styled by @elizabethstewart1 Gown: @alexandermcqueen Earrings: @jenniferfisherjewelry Cuff: @celine
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Viola Davis regrets starring in ‘The Help’: Viola Davis regrets starring in ‘The Help’: