Growing up in Rhode Island, US, Viola Davis felt invisible as she didn’t see her community being represented on the screen. And now, the Oscar-winning actor is out to change things herself.
She says in the current climate when women still have to fight for her own rights for her life and health, it is important for them to tap into their inner warrior — which is something she likes to echo through her characters on screen.
“When it comes to me, all the movies that I saw when I was growing up, the ones that affected me were movies where I felt that people got me and that they saw me. And then there were several movies with black women who were just a blip, or a bus driver. And I felt like, ‘Oh, no, that’s not it’,” Davis tells us in an exclusive interview.
The 57-year-old continues, “When one sees Miss Tyson growing up in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, (things change)”.
And that is something she hopes to do with her next film, The Woman King, tracing the story and struggle of an all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s.
“Our film literally can help women maybe tap into the warrior within themselves, especially in this climate with Roe versus Wade with everything that’s going on with women’s health, and women’s rights, to tap into that part of you, who is a fighter,” says the actor adding, “I don’t know how the film is going to stimulate change until the movie is out”.
But how has the industry changed for black women over all these years?
“We get asked that question all the time. What I feel is that you are asking the wrong people that question. You have to ask the studio heads. You have to ask the dude who greenlight movies, who finance movies, you need to ask them,” she says, adding, “Because I guarantee if you ask them, if you tap into their brains, you would know what the trajectory is in terms of our presence and cinema. As far as we’re concerned, it’s like, listen, we feel like we could do anything. That’s how we feel. And we’ve always felt”.