Viola Davis is one of the most-praised actresses in the industry, and has worked hard to get there.
Having won the “Triple Crown of Acting,” an Oscar, Emmy and Tony, as well as a Golden Globe, the 53-year-old actress is still fighting for diverse roles and bringing inclusivity to the screen. ET has an exclusive first look at Davis’ December cover of L’Officiel USA, in which she opens up about questioning her love of acting and wanting to be considered for the same roles as white actresses like Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman.
“I feel like our production company is the poster child of what it means to be inclusive with narrative in this business,” Davis tells the publication. “It is not just my hope for myself [to be cast in roles not specifically written for a Black woman]; it’s my hope for every person of color, and I don’t just mean Black — I mean Hispanic, I mean Asian. I mean for any person of color to be seen as not myopic.”
“If we are committed to inclusion, then that same role that you’re thinking for Sandra Bullock, or for Nicole Kidman, or for Saoirse Ronan, or for Anne Hathaway, can be thought of for Michelle Yeoh, or for myself, or for Taraji P. Henson, or for Catalina Sandino Moreno,” she stresses. “That is my hope for the business: I don’t always have to be in a Civil Rights movie. I don’t always have to make a statement. I don’t always have to save the world. Sometimes I just want to be a woman in a story.”
With a career spanning over two decades, Davis also admits that sometimes it’s difficult to keep oneself motivated in the acting field. She, however, is learning to “press the reset button” and “go back to something that challenges you.”
“I am in the season of being challenged by that question,” says the How to Get Away With Murder star about maintaining a love of acting for over 20 years. “I’m sort of trying to find a way to fall back in love with it again in the midst of the responsibility for the other stuff, in promoting movies, in contractual obligation for publicity, all the things that are not about my work. I think that you have to really exercise the power of ‘No.’”
“It’s gonna happen,” she continues. “You’re gonna lose your passion. You’re gonna become disillusioned. But in the midst of it, you have to press the reset button — you do. And then you have to go back to something that challenges you. It doesn’t have to be in movies, because not everyone has the opportunity to just say, ‘Oh, give me a great role in a movie, so I can be challenged.’ It could be theater, it could be writing a book. It could be just taking a break and doing nothing. But to have the courage to extract yourself from the mess and the noise and to press the reset button is the only way to find your passion again and to find the love again. But I’m in the midst of that right now.”
Earlier this year, Davis recounted the barriers she faced as a woman of color trying to break through in Hollywood.
“I’m not pretty enough; I’m too fat; I’m not good enough; my hair — that was a big one; my skin tone,” Davis listed off in a frank conversation in the National Geographic docuseries America Inside Out With Katie Couric.
See more in the video below.