Viola Davis said growing up in poverty gave her more compassion and allowed her to “see the other side of life” from the Holywood glamour.
he Oscar winner, 56, grew up in the town of Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her family often had no hot water, gas or electricity and rats roamed the building.
Davis, who has won top awards for stage and screen throughout her career, said acting has been a “healing source” in her life.
The actress told The Guardian magazine on Saturday: “I have an understanding of poverty that probably a lot of people don’t have, so I don’t romanticize it.
“I know what deprivation feels like and the most important thing they’ve given me is compassion.
“There’s something about knowing the path, having a hard time and being baptized with fire, that you start to really realize what it means for people who live in poverty and how difficult or it’s impossible to get out.
“It made me see the other side of life instead of just sitting at a cocktail party and talking about poverty the same way – I mean, I don’t know, the same way you talk about a Picasso – paintings would speak. I have a front row seat.”
Davis explained that she’s been reflecting on her past during lockdown and has documented her thoughts in her new memoir, Finding Me.
She said: “To break generational curses you need to become self-aware, hold yourself accountable and share your stories with the generation that comes behind you.
video of the day
“I think that’s one of the reasons we work so hard. It’s motivated by trauma, and it’s motivated by the fact that if we stop, we’re somehow not worth it. That is not true. you are worthy You were worthy when you were born.”
The actress noted that others in the entertainment industry are “waking up to agency and autonomy” and taking things into their own hands to create more diverse storylines and productions.
Davis and her husband Julius Tennon have now started a production company, JuVee Productions, to help create their own roles and narratives.
The company has a number of projects in the works, including the upcoming film The First Lady, in which Davis plays Michelle Obama.
The actress admitted she was “startled” by what Mrs. Obama would think of her portrayal and said she watched the former US First Lady’s documentary “Becoming” at least 22 times in preparation.
She added, “Here’s the thing about Michelle Obama, which is very different from me, unlike a lot of people: She’s healthy.
“She is a healthy person because she grew up in an environment where she has always felt seen and valued.
“Perhaps because I’ve been around a lot of artists in my life, with a lot of people who’ve been traumatized, including myself, it’s very interesting to portray someone who’s literally sane.”
The First Lady will be on Paramount+ this summer.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/viola-davis-living-in-poverty-gave-me-front-row-seat-on-other-side-of-life-41558794.html Viola Davis: Living in poverty got me a front row seat on the ‘other side of life’