Viola Davis’ Mission To ‘Change The Way Black Women Are Seen’


Viola Davis has long been counted among some of Hollywood’s most talented stars. However, Davis doesn’t just want to keep acting—she wants to use her voice to help positively influence the ways in which Black women are viewed on screen. 

Davis’ Fight To Make Movies That Have A ‘Cultural Impact’

Davis is currently doing press for the blockbuster historical action movie The Woman King. In addition to starring in the film, Davis also served as a producer. “It’s a fight,” Davis told The Guardian. “I call it The Fight. It’s a fight to find partners who have the same vision as you, who are able to give it a green light.”

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“And then the other fight, if it’s a predominantly Black female cast, is that because we haven’t led the global box office, there’s no precedent that it will work and make the money back for the people who invest in it,” she continued. “The bottom line is money. It’s not about cultural impact—it’s about money.”

Davis: ‘I Can Change The Way Black Women Are Seen…Within The Industry’

While Davis is committed to this fight, she also admitted that she can’t do it all. “I have a true understanding of my limitations as a human being,” the actress explained. “I cannot carry the weight of the past on my shoulders. I can’t do that. I’m not God. What I can do is what I can do.”

“What is in my power to change is to show people that we are more than the stamp that people have put on dark-skinned women,” Davis continued. “That we are sexual, that we are desirable, that we can be smart, that we are way more expansive and our identity is not determined by your gaze. I can change that. I can change the way Black women are seen, to some extent, within the industry.”

‘The Woman King’s Success Has Given Davis ‘Agency’ In Hollywood

Davis has had plenty of noteworthy roles over the years, including Doubt, The Help, and her Oscar-winning role in Fences, but she calls her part in The Woman King “a culmination of my career over the last 33 years.”

“I arrived in Hollywood having hopes and dreams for my career, but never quite having ownership or agency,” she shared. “The Woman King has seemed like the ultimate gift and conduit to give me that agency.”

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The success of The Woman King—$65.3 million at the box office—has shown that Davis’ mission to make movies that change the way the industry sees Black women is already finding success.

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