Viola talks to the Huffington Post on why Annalise had to take her wig off in the final scene of How To Get Away with Murder’s episode.
‘Annalise Keating is all over the place,” says the woman behind her on screen, Oscar nominee Viola Davis, “I’m concerned with my health. She just wants power. She wears a heavy duty mask every day, which must be exhausting. I couldn’t do it.”
Annalise Keating is the central figure in ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ – a thriller drama from the guiding hand of Shonda Rhimes, the one-woman game-changer who, with ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and more recently ‘Scandal’, has been credited with redefining the role of women of colour on US primetime TV, something of which Viola is in no doubt.
“She redefined us as something bold and strong,” she asserts, sounding both of these down the phone. “We’re no longer supporting, we’re not necessarily nurturing, we’re not asexual. We’re none of it. And Shondra doesn’t apologise or make a big deal of it. So the viewer simply forgets, and we can all get on with the story.”
When ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ debuted in the States, along with acclaim for its zinging storyline of law professor Keating and her students becoming entangled in a murder conspiracy that shakes the entire university – think ‘Scandal’ meets ‘The Secret History’ – there came an admiring but controversial article by New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley, describing Rhimes as “an angry black woman” and Viola Davis as “not classically beautiful”. How’s this stunningly beautiful actress feeling about those words today?
She laughs. “I think those kind of statements have been heard by women of colour their entire lives.
“It’s a label, and I’m pleased that the reaction it caused meant we were part of a huge moment in history.
“So many women were messaging, using the hashtag #notclassicallybeautiful, with pictures of themselves – afros, crew cuts, weaves, you name it. It was phenomenal.”
With this seamless, segue into the topic of hair, I must ask Viola about a key scene for Annalise Keating – the moment when she divests herself of her trinkets, her designer clothes and finally, and significantly, her wig. That must have been quite a moment to film…
“I pushed for that to happen.” says Viola. “I said, she’s not going to bed with her wig on.
“It could be powerful and liberating, but she’s got to take her wig off. Because who Annalise is in public is a big fat lie, and we have to see her taking off the armour, which is so thick, it becomes all the more dramatic when she removes it, and you see all the pain.”
“I did feel vulnerable,” she confides of this momentous scene that will surely come to voters’ minds come Awards Season, before laughing, “but still not as vulnerable as doing all the sex scenes. When I know members of my family are going to be watching.”
I found this recent interview that Viola did with ABC news and had to post … she shares the lesson she learned from working with Meryl Streep.
More ABC US news | ABC Health News
For Viola Davis, being the face of “How to Get Away With Murder” has meant a lot of responsibility but she’s embraced it with grace, thanks to lessons she picked up from fellow actress Meryl Streep.
Davis appeared with Streep in 2008′s “Doubt” alongside Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
“When I got that role, I thought I had won the lottery — I cannot even tell you,” Davis said. “Meryl Streep is the greatest actress because you can see so many different emotions going on in her eyes. … It’s a joy as an artist.”
She said that on the movie’s set, Streep had asked for her colleagues’ opinions and never let them hide in the background.
“I see her consciously make that effort knowing what her responsibility is from the moment she steps on. And she does it as much as she can,” Davis said. “And I respected that and honored that.”
On the hit ABC show, Davis plays Annalise Keating, a criminal defense attorney and law school professor at a fictional school.
“‘How to get away with murder’ is her way of being dramatic. … [She] takes her job very seriously and also just wants to provoke these students, wants to manipulate them,” she said. “The classroom is her stage. … She’s MY sexy.”
Davis, who was nominated for Oscars for her role in “The Help” as well as “Doubt,” said she is aware of the example she sets the moment she steps on the show’s sound stage.
“I know that I set the mood and the groundwork and foundation in which people have to create,” Davis said. “And I gotta tell you the person I learned that from is Meryl Streep.”
Davis was one of six siblings. All but one was born in St. Matthews, South Carolina, on the Singleton plantation.
She moved north in 1965 when she was just a baby. Her father groomed horses at the racetrack. Her mother worked at a factory periodically. She has been outspoken about not having enough food when she was growing up in abject poverty in Rhode Island.
“I remember always thinking when I was a kid, remember thinking when people would look at me and go, ‘Oh I know she’s poor. … I would think, ‘Just give me some food and I could take care of the rest,” she said. “Just give me some fuel, you know? But there was such a shame and stigma attached to it.”
She now works with The Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation on their Hunger Is campaign to eradicate childhood hunger. She is being given an award by Hunger Is tonight for her work with the campaign.
“It’s been cathartic to say I was hungry,” she told ABC News. “I was. I was a hungry kid who could never get at the business of being me, you know? … So it’s my joy and my pleasure to be a part of this campaign.”
Davis said her struggles had helped her appreciate the achievements.
“I just wanted to find something that I really loved and to build a life around it — and so that’s what I did,” she said.
With an all new episode we get all new stills! Here are three new stills from tonight’s episode of How To Get Away With Murder!
A man sentenced to death by Asher’s father years ago is Annalise’s new client. Meanwhile, Wes is still peeved at Annalise for not revealing everything about Lila’s case; and in a flash-forward, Asher’s whereabouts on the night of the murder are revealed.
I am so excited to launch Viola Davis Online here at violadavis.net. This site is dedicated to the extremely talented Academy Award nominated & Tony winning actress Viola Davis who is best known for her work in the films The Help, Doubt, Beautiful Creatures, and Ender’s Game. She is currently starring on the ABC drama How to Get Away with Murder!
This site is a major work in progress but I wanted to launch so I could start sharing all the latest news and pictures related to Viola. Stay tuned for all things related to this talented actress!
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