February 16, 2021  •  No Comment  •  News & Articles

Viola Davis spoke to The Telegraph about her starring role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and reflected on the first time she saw the August Wilson play when she was worked as an usher at a theater during college.

Davis, 55, was recently nominated for a Golden Globe Award under the Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama category for Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Davis told The Telegraph’s film critic Robbie Collin that she paid her way through theater school at Rhode Island College and later at The Julliard School in New York City. She recalled ushering one night and watching the theater’s onstage adaptation of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “almost stopped breathing.”

“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,” Davis said.

The “How to Get Away with Murder” actor went on to say that when she was a student at Julliard, she never performed any plays by Wilson, who famously wrote a cycle of 10 shows about African-Americans in the 20th century, all but one of which were set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The award-winning star said that this was largely because her graduating class at the time didn’t have enough Black students to cast in the shows.

“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,” Davis said.

She continued: “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.”

Davis went on to win a Tony Award for her performance in Wilson’s “King Hedley II,” and an Academy Award for her role in the 2016 film adaptation of Wilson’s “Fences,” among many other accolades for her performances in “The Help” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”

She also told The Telegraph that she thinks “dark-skinned Black women” do not have the same freedoms as white actresses in the film 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. And they’re wonderful white actresses — Meryl Streep in ‘Hope Springs,’ or Diane Keaton in ‘Something’s Gotta Give.’ But I don’t feel like that same freedom has been extended to black women, especially dark-skinned black women. I simply don’t see it,” Davis said.

As The Telegraph reported, Davis’ next role is as the executive producer for “First Ladies,” a Showtime series in which she’ll play Michelle Obama.

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February 12, 2021  •  No Comment  •  News & Articles

“Who I am in private, even without my makeup, my mess, my failures, my joy, my imperfection, my complexity—all of that is beauty.”

For the State of Black Beauty, ELLE.com chatted with six Black icons to hear how they define Black beauty and how they see themselves in the space—in their own words.

Black beauty, what it means to me is Maya Angelou’s poem, “Phenomenal Woman.” It’s loving your hips, your nose, your hair. It’s embracing all of the cultural attributes that are in your faith, in your voice, in your mannerisms, in your past, and what makes you different from everyone else. It’s also making peace with the parts of you that are strong, confident, but also vulnerable and the parts of you that sometimes need help. It’s all of it. It’s embracing fully, absolutely, who you are.

I wish I knew that who and what I am was enough—that who I am is just perfect. If someone would have told me back then, I would’ve maybe thought that was conceited. I would not have seen that as confidence. I spent so much time trying to erase and re-imagine myself as someone else—Diana Ross, Oprah Winfrey, any person at any given time. I wish I had known that the palette that God gave me was enough. I wasted years. A lot of that had to do with quieting the outside noise, especially with social media. You can’t measure life by material things. I feel at the end of the day, my worth comes from my authenticity.

“I wish I knew that who and what I am was enough—that who I am is just perfect.”

The thing about our beauty industry is, it was an extension of our culture where historically, Black beauty and Black femininity have been at the bottom of the totem pole. We were chattel. I feel like the beauty industry was an extension of that and what made it worse was growing up with the internal hatred that happens within our Black communities.

Read the full interview/article in our press library.

February 4, 2021  •  No Comment  •  News & Articles

Viola also was nominated for the 2021 Screen Actors Guild Awards in the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role and as part of the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture categories for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. Chadwick Boseman was also nominated posthumous for the movie.

Amy Adams (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)
Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)
Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)

The 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are set to happen on April 4, 2021 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.

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February 3, 2021  •  No Comment  •  News & Articles

Viola Davis snags a nomination for the 2021 Golden Globes as Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”)
Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)
Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”)
Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)

The 78th Golden Globe Awards are set to happen on February 28, 2021. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they are airing later than usual time. Best of luck to Viola!

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