Viola Davis Has A Question For Women Everywhere: “Do You Know How Fabulous You Are?”
February 29, 2016
Article taken from ELLE.
The How to Get Away with Murder star on wellness, masks, and wise emails from Meryl Streep.
A woman of substance, Viola Davis knows that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Davis is a passionate advocate for better opportunities for black women. She is a spokesperson for the Vaseline Healing Project. She is a mother and a mentor and already an icon to watchers of basic cable everywhere.
But, god, the How to Get Away with Murder star can’t help it: She is a makeup and skincare obsessive.
“You have to understand,” she tells me when we meet to chat about her latest work for the emergency relief organization, “that I fill gallon-sized Ziploc bags with products that I toss out and replenish every month.” She revels in her latest finds—potions and lotions and a new set of bath salts she picked up last month. She extolls the virtues of Vaseline, which she uses under her eyes to stave off invisible wrinkles. And she believes in the deep meditative properties of masks.
Having paused for a second to unstrap her heels, Davis rolled up her sleeves and spilled her tips and tricks and what she wishes she could tell women about themselves for ELLE.com.
Given your love of makeup and skincare, what kind of beauty tips have you passed on to your daughter?
Oh, I’ve done a really bad job with teaching her to put on makeup, but I have taught her how to put on lipstick.
What’s her favorite color?
Red, because you can see it! And I’ve taught her to put on mascara, because she plays dress up. Oh, and to walk in heels, by the way. She likes doing it. She loves it. You know, she’s five…and a half—excuse me.
But the biggest beauty advice I’ve given her is every morning I say, “Genesis, what are the two best parts of you?” And she says “my brain and my heart.” And I say, “You’ve gotta remember that, Genesis. You’ve gotta remember that you’re not what you look like,” you know? I think that’s the best beauty advice I could give her.
Did someone teach that to you?
Not as much as I would have liked. Even though I think watching my mom gave me great inspiration, I wish that had been reinforced more verbally. It would have kept me from a lot of pain.
Are there women in your world now that have given you those lessons in confidence? Oh absolutely. Meryl [Streep] does it all the time. She does it all the time. I think she does it in a way that she doesn’t even understand or think she’s doing it. You know, she just sent me an email, and I was like, “That’s perfect.” She was like, “Yes, Viola, now that you’ve just had your vow renewal…this is the best part of your life now. There’s not anything that you don’t know anymore in terms of what’s good and bad out there, so now you can just fly.” She’s always imparting wisdom like that.
Since we’re on the topic now, was your vow renewal everything you dreamed it to be?
Oh my God, that dress! It was Carmen Marc Valvo and it was spectacular. And the venue! Everything was perfection. It was everything that I thought it would be, could be, should be. But, you know, I had three tries.
My first wedding was 15 people at our condo. The second was maybe about a hundred people at this fabulous casino. And you know what? I have almost no pictures of the second one, because I put disposable cameras on the tables, because everyone said, “The best pictures are the most candid! The best pictures are the ones people just take!” So, I put disposable cameras on the tables, and guess what? There were so many kids there that those cameras were stomped on. I had so many pictures of the floor, of people’s eyes, of someone’s finger. I did not get one picture I could possibly use. So this time, I said I’m just gonna spare no expense and do what I really want. And that’s the best thing about a vow renewal—you can do it exactly the way you want. And so, yes, it was beautiful.
On the not-quite-so-charmed days, what do you do to take care of yourself?
I go outside and listen to music. I sit in the Jacuzzi. I have a lot of spiritual books that I read that I really, really love—everything from the Bible to Joseph Campbell, who I love. He wrote The Hero of a Thousand Faces. It’s about exploring what is heroic in you. It helps me a lot. And, you know, I play with my daughter, which always works.
Tell me about your morning and nighttime routines. What rituals do you stick to—beauty or otherwise?
I am addicted to any facial product that’s anti-aging. Right now, I’m using LifeCell. I’ve got the whole system. I love it. I like that and Natura Bisse. At night, I’ll rinse my face in hot water to open my pores. And this is me as someone who, if you saw me in my regular life, you would say, “Okay, Viola, you need a friend to tell you you’re not living on the street,” you know? But at night, I always wash it for 30 seconds to a minute, I massage my face, I rinse it and dry it off, and then I put on a mask, always. And, oh! I love Live Ultimate—that’s another clay mask. I’ll do it with my husband, too, which I can’t even believe, because he’s total a macho man. But he lets me play with his skin.
The couple that masks together, stays together.
We better! But, yes, in the morning, I am not a morning person, but I always work out—always. Now, a lot of people may be surprised at that, but I’m very dedicated to working out. Usually, it’s running. It clears my mind, totally. I get on the treadmill, which I just bought, and I run on that for about 40-45 minutes. [I listen to] “Uptown Funk”, Bruno Mars, sometimes even Nina Simone and Adele. Whatever comes up, whatever floats my boat, whatever makes me tap into something in me to just decompress—I listen to that. And then I take a shower and have to leave to go to work.
Do you think women are too hard on themselves?
I just look at women sometimes and I just want to ask them, “Do you know how fabulous you are?” I look back at pictures of myself and I remember thinking, “I was so fat when I was growing up. I was 165 pounds when I graduated from high school. I was a mess.” And then I look back at pictures of myself, and I’m like, “You were fabulous.” I wish I would have known that then. I wish people had just kept telling me and telling me, beating me over the head and beating me over the head some more and more and more. I talk to women all the time and try to impart that wisdom.
We need it.
Listen, me too. I just came back from vacation and I ate everything. I mean I’m sipping cocktails by the pool, thinking I’m a size 2. And now, you know, my dress is tight. So, I need it, too. I always need to remind myself: It’s okay.