Viola Davis declares that she will never play a maid again: ‘I’m tired of that’

I have to keep reminding myself that Viola Davis isn’t an Oscar winner. For whatever reason, I just have a tic about that. I really believed she was going to win the Best Actress last year for The Help, but Meryl Streep won for The Iron Lady. Which, by the way, I recently saw and it SUCKED. I love Meryl, but that film was a hot mess and the biggest problem was the script (as opposed to Meryl’s acting). Still, I guess it’s sort of a victory for Viola because most people already consider her an Oscar-winner? Maybe? At the end of the day, though, maybe Viola didn’t want to win an Oscar for playing a maid – it’s a stereotype that a lot of African-American actresses try to avoid in their careers, and Viola now says that she will never play another maid again:

Viola Davis might have received an Oscar nod for playing a maid in “The Help,” but the actress told CNN she’s glad not to be wearing an apron in her latest movie.

Davis plays a librarian named Amma in Richard LaGravenese’s “Beautiful Creatures,” though the character was actually written as a maid in the book series that inspired the film.

“I’m tired of that,” Davis told CNN of playing housekeeper roles. “We played – me and Octavia [Spencer], Aunjanue Ellis, Roslyn Ruff – we all played maids in ‘The Help’ and it was fabulous, it’s a fabulous story because we were personalized and all of those things, but I think that people need to see an African-American in the 21st century integrated in the life of this town and family who’s not in servitude.”

Davis also gushed about her green costars, Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich.

“They weren’t thinking about ‘everything is resting on my shoulders, how are people going to receive the movie?’ That is not your job as an actor,” she said. “They were artists doing their job, in the moment, without vanity, with courage. And that’s what I respected about them, I really did. There’s no sense of stress in any of them. … It was wonderful to watch.”

[From CNN]

It’s weird to think that an actress of Viola’s caliber has to actually make those kinds of declarations and that consciously avoiding playing those kinds of stereotypical characters will be detrimental to her career. Because what’s next for V? A Tyler Perry movie? Thankfully, no. I just checked her IMDB – she’s been working steadily since last year’s awards season, which is great.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

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115 Responses to “Viola Davis declares that she will never play a maid again: ‘I’m tired of that’”

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  1. T.Fanty says:

    I love her. That’s all I have to say.

  2. Riana says:

    Sad reality of minority actors and actresses in Hollywood, a very select few get any kind of chosen role and the rest are left with playing some form of tired cliche or stereotype. The maid thing is even worse for Latina actresses.

    I think she’ll be lucky enough that she wont have to have that type of role as her only option.

    • Marty says:

      So so true! It’s like that new movie The Impossible with Naomi Watts, that story is really based on a HISPANIC family but they changed it to an all white family. It’s sad really, I wish Hollywood would try a little harder.

      • Amea says:

        Actually, the family is Spanish, as in from Spain, not from Latin America. There are white Spanish people (though they may look a bit “exotic” with darker Mediterranean features) so as far as race goes that movie didn’t stray too far.

      • Leen says:

        They were Spanish, not Hispanic. In a sense, they are ‘European’. The director who is Spanish purposely left out the ‘nationalities’ of the people in the film because he wanted this to be a universal story about the people who suffered the Tsunami.

    • Gemini08 says:

      I was an actress for ten years and I’ll never forget one of my acting teachers sitting me down and saying to me: You will have a really hard time because you’re a black woman. You won’t have the leading lady roles. Hollywood just doesn’t think like that. I remember being so upset with him but sadly he was right. With the exception of Halle Berry (and even her career is peppered with slave and maid roles) there are ZERO black film leading ladies.

      • CC says:

        i remember not so long ago Viola saying “if Halle Berry is having problems landing leading lady roles or getting acting jobs in general, you know I’m having problems since Halle’s looks are more acceptable”..
        I’m not sure if it’s black, hispanic or Asian issue. For the exception of Meryl Streep, it’s seems that even White actressses are obsolete in HW once they’ve reached 40 years old. Especially if they played up the sex symbol thing in their 20′s and 30′s. I still see Naomi Watts getting some meaty roles in her 50′s. Nicole Kidman, not so much. I can’t imagine what her face will look like in her 50′s. I can’t bear to look at her now in her 40′s.

      • Mia says:

        @ cc-Black women have a hard time even getting leading lady roles in their 20′s and 30′s let alone being depicted as sex symbols. White actresses may age out of headlining films but most black actresses are not permitted to headline mainstream films young or old. This is quite clearly based on racism. Please stop trying to diminish that. Meryl Streep is quite obviously experiencing sexism and ageism, but lets not deny that when she was younger she had opportunities that were never available to her black actress contemporaries.

    • Ranunculus says:

      @ Nev This ^^^^^^^^

      She is such a stupendous actress, and it may sound weird, but I was glad she did not win the Oscar for her performance in The Help, because Viola would have won for playing a maid in a movie that was full of racial stereotypes.

      I hated that movie, hated Emma Stone in it, because she is such a mediocre actress and her having the lead next to Viola made me sick to my stomach.

      • RN says:

        I hated the book so much that I couldn’t make it even halfway through, which made the other mommies raise their eyebrows. I wanted to punch the main character in the face. Therefore, I didn’t even bother with the movie.

      • Gemini08 says:

        Thank you!! I hated that film as well. I hated it for everything it represented and I hated the fact that these amazing actresses who have BEEN amazing for years were just getting their due for playing MAIDS. It pissed me off.

      • Victoria1 says:

        I think Viola is great. She was excellent in Doubt.
        I also hate Emma Stone and thought the Help was like a lifetime movie. It was a watered down civil rights movie. How do you make light of a remarkable time in history? That’s how I felt after it. Like, toilets? Really?

      • Kloops says:

        Hated the book. Hated the movie. Loved the actresses. Watched only for them. Emma Stone’s acting skills are definitely lackluster but she seems to be such a genuinely sweet person that I’m hoping her skills develop into something worth watching.

  3. GossipG says:

    If your heart doesnt feel like it..dont do it..But if ya need the money misS Davis,reconsider..You dont have to accept it..if ya dont wanna..

  4. Anna says:

    I wish I could just go out to dinner with her and talk – she strikes me as such an intelligent, classy lady. I just love her.

  5. Hautie says:

    I said last year, that I was shocked that Meryl won that Oscar, for such a sh*tty movie.

    But Viola having such a great run up to the Oscar’s, means she on the top of the list now for roles. Which is better in the end. Hopefully she gets another opportunity to get nominated again.

    • CC says:

      Agreed, and there always seem to be 1-2 movies a year that were built for “award season” but are rather forgettable otherwise. The Iron Lady was one, and as far as I’m concerned, Lincoln is another. Nothing like a cheap cliche of making a historical film for awards season, yawn.

  6. greenieweenie says:

    Is it just me, or does she look like Alfre Woodard? She’s too good for that girlfriend/maid shit anyway. Women should not be compelled to take the scraps offered to them just because they’re the only thing available. Bullshit! All of us should demand more.

    and LOVE that she has the confidence to wear that hair. Tell the world that you don’t have to have “white” hair to be beautiful, classy or successful.

  7. hoya_chick says:

    I love her. She is so fantastic. I purposefully did not see The Help. I am actually glad she didn’t win the Oscar for that movie. I am from the school of thought that especially for minorities— that it is just as important what you get nominated for as it is to actually win. Does that make sense? I mean I am still pissed about Hallie Berry’s win. Gross.

    • Victoria1 says:

      Come on, she won for banging Billy Bob. That’s how bad people felt for her.

    • SargassoSea says:

      @Hoya 1000%. I stopped watching the Oscars that year when I realised it was a mixture of old boy bullshit and initiation.

      That scene was just, no. And while Halle is gorgeous, she is a limp noodle actress. Her speech that night was eloquent though… it included gracious mention of dead black dames who didn’t win.

      I also didn’t see The Help- probably won’t unless its free. Still deciding on Django. I avoid these race films on principle. I love, lovvve, the formidable talent that is DonCheadle, but I haven’t even seen hotelRwanda.

      • Hoya_chick says:

        @ SargassoSea I too avoid those types of films. I haven’t seen Django either (they actually were selling action figures as marketing for that movie! So disgusting) and I don’t plan to. Halle Berry is a terrible actress, Monsters Ball was terrible. All these years later I’m still asking why?! I do agree though, I liked her speech and how she paid homage to those you came before her and her contemporaries as well. On a purely shallow note, I loved her dress too! Lol.

        I recommend reading (if you haven’t already read it) We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch, it’s the book on which Hotel Rwanda is based. It’s a great book. I read it back in ’05 and tried to watch the movie but couldn’t make it all the way through. I love Don too but I was really affected by the book and so I couldn’t watch the movie.

        Ha Victoria1 I guess that’s one way to look at it!

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        I don’t really watch them, either. None of the ones mentioned, at least. I never watch award shows for the mere reason that I find them painfully disingenuous, predictable and dull and I honestly don’t know how even the nominated actors sit through them–arse kissing and all–but I really don’t feel like watching black women win for being maids or victims of the system. It’s a bit unsettling that that’s what’s always getting rewarded, but there are a million other reasons I don’t watch. ‘Best Weight Loss In A Haircut Or Make-Up Change’ comes up more often and signals the dry heaves in me.

      • Leen says:

        Although I dislike Hollywood movies that are riddled with inaccuracies and stereotypes, I have to say Hotel Rwanda is not on the list. My mom who has watched it and she currently works with a Rwandan man (who was in the hotel himself when the genocide occurred), said the movie was pretty accurate. So I guess by that admission, Hotel Rwanda does not fall in the ‘race’ movies.

      • LAK says:

        @Leen – HOTEL RWANDA may have been based on true events but the accents were south African, and they used South African actors as well as American actors.

        It’s an ongoing sore point amongst Africans.

        FYI – We don’t all look and sound the same.

      • Leen says:

        LAK – Of course. I get it, but I guess I look past these things when I watch a movie that has a specific message. Believe me I know, a movie about a Palestinian called Miral starred Frida Piento recently (and obviously Indians and Palestinians are worlds apart) but I dunno I didn’t really care as much as I should have because I liked the movie and the message behind it. I mean yes I can argue that it is a terribly orientalist thing to do, but I dunno, maybe my moral outrage will come out in the next movie?

      • Leen says:

        @lak, I can’t necessarily speak for the Rwandan community but I can draw comparisons in similar instances with films concentrating on Arab subjects. For instance, house of saddam. Saddam was played by an Israeli and his wife was played by an Iranian ( you can already sense the offense this would cause to Arabs and especially Iraqis), you can tell 100% they are not Arab because their accents were Israeli and Iranian (and anyone who is non Arab can’t easily detect it unless you have learnt Arabic for a number of years). I don’t believe any of the actors were Iraqi actually, but some were Arab. Does that mean the miniseries is infactual, not aesthetically good, or it has nothing to offer the filming industry? Nope. Does that mean it might have misrepresented the Iraqis? Maybe. Does it matter? Not so much, unless you are Arab you probably didn’t even know the main character was played by an Israeli. And the film was aimed at a wider audience. I wasn’t offended as an Arab nor were many as I recall. The value of the debate is brought up, etc but it didn’t really matter in the bigger picture.

  8. Ms Kay says:

    She is amazing. I remember during the Oscar season last year at the Roundtable she tried to explain a similar issue but an oblivious Charlize Theron interrupted her, only Fassbenbder got it and asked about the race issue but alas a George Clooney started talking about himself, the whole subject got totally deflected… *sigh*

    She is right, not many opportunities for African American actors/actresses only a very few chosen ones. A pity.

    • greenieweenie says:

      I remember that. I think it is really important to see gender first as a defining human characteristic–just because it IS, unlike race. However, Charlize did sound just plain dumb. She’s got her little son now, who’s black, and frankly that probably won’t change her views one bit. He’ll have every privilege so every door will be open to him and he’ll maybe just experience the occasional vague slight or ignorant comment. She’ll never really grasp the lasting effects of institutionalized racism on American society. So easy to be “color-blind” when you’re white and rich!

      • LAK says:

        Charlize is African. We tend to be colour blind until we hit the west and people tell us we should be colour aware.

        If you then become as successful as she did and live in a bubble, there is no chance that you’ll ever understand the racial thing.

        That’s not to say that we are unaware that racism happens, more that it’s a different conversation than the one black Americans have, and more often we don’t encounter the type of racism that black americans encounter until we leave Africa.

        I don’t think her son will grow up unscathed. He has the challenge of growing up Afrikaan unless Charlize decides to bring him up completely American.

    • T.C. says:

      You think Charlize Theron grew up in South Africa when it was divided and doesn’t know that racism exists? Hace you ever been to South Africa? The only two leaders she has ever voted for in elections were Nelson Mandela in South Africa and Barack Obama when she got her U.S.citizenship.

      I saw that interview with Viola Davis Theron wasn’t saying racism doesn’t exist she was correcting Viola about her lack of attractiveness. She sounded offended that Viola called herself unattractive. It made me sad to hear her say that about herself like she’s buying into Western standards of beauty. I would have said the same thing Theron did if I was sitting next to her. I hate when women put themselves down.

      • jinni says:

        Charlize didn’t get the subtext that Viola was touching upon. Viola wasn’t saying that she thought she was ugly in comparison to Halle. She was saying that if someone like Halle who more closely resembles the European ideal/type (and is also considered by many in the industry as the ideal black woman/actress) that Hollywood actually give jobs to isn’t able to find decent or any roles, than it’s even harder for someone like her who it dark skin with more obvious West African features to get roles.

      • Ms Kay says:

        Viola wasn’t thinking of herself as unattractive, she was stating the obvious that she is no Halle Berry physically wise, but that even Halle Berry (whom by HW standards is the lighter your skin is the better), was still having a hard time getting roles in HW, thus no matter how Haller Berry you may look like because the skin colour and adding the age (45+) you will have a hard time to make it to the top. It had nothing to do that she was envious of Halle Berry attractiveness. Then an oblivious Charlize totally misunderstood it and though that she was insecure about herself and said she looked hot etc. Only Fassbender got bona fide curious and asked if it was still hard for African American nowadays and when she wanted to answer, George Clooney stepped in and et the whole conversation derailed into something like sexism etc. A pity…

        EDIT : jinni beat me to it lol!

      • T.C. says:

        Thanks Jinni and Ms Kay for the expanation. I just watched the video again I see what you mean that Viola wasn’t putting herself down but making a point about the beauty standards she has to compete against. I saw George Clooney interrupting Viola’s point about racism, he turned it into a sexism argument instead. He should know better.

        I wish a network like BET could do an awards panel for women of color. I would like to see Viola together with Kerry Washington, the lead and supporting actresses from Middle of Nowhere and yes even crazy Halle.

      • ViktoryGin says:

        @ TC

        BET is complete garbage, and has been ever since it was sold to a corporate network whose only concern was shilling the worst aspects of AA culture for ratings. Educated blacks who actually give a damn about these issues in earnest DO NOT watch BET.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        I wish BET weren’t complete garbage but clearly it doesn’t doesn’t take itself or its universe seriously, so it’s so much the better that Canada went back to ignoring it. A network is a terrible thing to waste.

    • Gemini08 says:

      YUP! Michael Fassbender was the only one who wanted to have the REAL conversation. Charlize kept talking over everyone attempting to the center of attention and the point of the Viola’s comment completely flew over her head. I really wish they had been able to circle back to what Viola was saying.

      • Ms Kay says:

        Yes, because as much she is South African, Theron is White. I mean saying “I have to stop you there” in order to focus on Davis’ looks shows how entitled and oblivious she was of the point Davis was making. But the whole conversation took another turn when Clooney, dominates the entire conversation using his White + male privilege, puts himself as an expert to talk about sexism in the film industry, which is ridiculous. Only few words are said by other women while he relates charmingly his anecdotes, subtly making himself the authority on the issue, which really had me going *facepalm* on the irony of the situation… And that same Clooney praised the film industry for a history of being forward race wise because Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for Gone With the Wind, yet completely or then conveniently omitted to mention that McDaniel had to sit at a separate table at that awards ceremony. The man with his looks and charm persona gets a pass…

        Which showed the entire debate derail in that video, now I think Fassbender was the only one asking the question to give the mic back to Davis instead of stepping in, because he was genuinely curious (note to self : and perhaps it has to do with the fact he dates African American women thus he wants to understand) and wanted to get the convo back on its tracks. Only the likes of Theron and Clooney stepped in a bit entitled and not really listening. The whole use of charm and liberalism to get away with it needs to stop.

      • ViktoryGin says:

        @ Ms Kay

        Very astute observation. I’ve got to find that interview. Unfortnately, George loves to hear himself waxing political. There is so much ego in his communication style that it does surprise me that he ran roughshod over the discussion interrupting with his own agenda instead of truly listening to what another had to say because it seems to his style. Probably not used to dating women with informed opinions O_o

        White privelege is bright, hard, blinding light ( pun intended, if you wish). If a person has conveniently grown up without having to concern themselves with race relations, then it’s something that they lack the discretion to see. Particulary when it’s insidious to the extent of virtual invisibility. Then we just look like a bunch of bitter bitches with a chip on our shoulder and an axe to grind.

        This is not to say that I don’t welcome intelligent critical discourse, because I’m not one to cower at the prospect of a good argument bit. Indeed, I love engaging people but these taboo subjects because it’s the only way forward. What I dislike is being dismissed out of hand or having our issues glossed over or trivialized. People may be exhausted of the wretched black woman story, but I’lll stop talking about it when it ceases to be true. Good looking out.

      • Ms Kay says:

        @ ViktoryGin

        Hahaha indeed he must not be used to date strong headed woman, his ego wouldn’t take it :-D

        I mean as much as there was a good intention behind Theron reply, I found it thoroughly misguided and offensive as well. Davis was honestly confronting a number of painful and complicated issues faced by many women of color in Hollywood nowadays that Theron (who was born in South Africa to parents of European descent) more than likely has never encountered and would have done well to listen to. The Oscar roundtable was the perfect forum for such a discussion, and yet Theron “verbal charity” managed to completely dumb-down the importance of Davis point. What difference does it make if Davis stops speaking a truth if the reality remains? And when Clooney opened his mouth… *sigh*

        Agree on the White privilege thing. Clooney/Theron and many other actors imo seem to be ignorant of the memo that mainstream culture strictly dictates what beauty is and by those narrow standards, Viola Davis doesn’t fit the bill. Has Davis graced the covers of any of the beauty and fashion magazines that Theron lands with ease, whether she has a project or not? Has she landed deals with Dior? Louis Vuitton? Davis major covers were as Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter also featured her costars from the film or George Clooney, say her beauty standard was apparently not enough to warrant a solo appearance despite the fact that she landed major awards nods last year until the Oscar nod. There are as many varied and disturbing reasons, and Theron simplistic ignorant advice underscores the lack of understanding many have around a reality they don’t fully comprehend…

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        YESSSSSSS!

        It’s the elephant in the room, so I have to address it. Charlize is a white woman from South Africa and this conversation could’ve become really uncomfortable for her, but you know, suck it up and let Viola say her piece. She knows herself, she knows her point and she must have confidence coming out of her butt if she can get to where she is when people are decidedly not salivating over her every moment of her life, Charlize, so enough of people stopping her.

        I thought someone told George Clooney to do his research before making trite ad pat speeches already. He can’t buy everyone off with a pair of implants and swinging anecdote.

      • Greenieweenie says:

        @Ms Kay, completely agree with your assessment. There are some things I like about America…the fact that unlike the UK, Europe, etc., it has been forced to confront its racism. Americans don’t pretend to be anything but a racist country and in a way, that has made the country much less racist than others!

        However, I have spent plenty of time with white ppl who are just unaware of the nuance of bias. Yes, Charlize, you can tell a black woman she is beautiful and she shouldn’t expect to be treated differently and so on….doesn’t change the fact that she IS and she WILL be. And like I said, normally having a black child would force you to reconsider these issues but I doubt her child will ever confront them seriously. You’ve really got to be black and poor to feel the full force of disenfranchisement.

      • LAK says:

        Greenieweenie – so if a person is black and rich they are exempt from feeling disenfranchised or are somehow protected from racism???!!!

      • Ms Kay says:

        @ Greenieweenie

        “You’ve really got to be black and poor to feel the full force of disenfranchisement.”

        Unfortunately me dear, it doesn’t work like that. Let’s just take a very simple example : POTUS. Despite being one of the most powerful men, there are still many who will not admit that Obama won primarily because of he has a vision for the future and his record. People still refuse to legitimize President Obama’s win. There always has to be some reason besides the fact that he is a good leader, has perhaps a vision for the USA, is trying to give the best he can considering the mess he inherited and the obstacles that adversaries have placed on his path, and his belief that all Americans deserve a chance to succeed. Yes, minorities overwhelminingly supported the President, and some no doubt voted because of race or skin color, but also most people supported the President’s policies and vision. Saying the President was reelected by virtue of his race and skin color only, is not much different from saying he was not born in the USA, he is Muslim, or he is somehow different, or as some Republicans put it, “He needs to learn how to be an American.” Sadly, it boils down to White people who simply cannot accept the fact that the USA may be changing in terms of demographics of all sorts, and the way Americans look at issues.

        So, no mater how rich or poor, no matter how wealthy or decent salary, no matter how well educated or not, no matter the good or bad background, no matter how powerful or weak… No one is exempt from racism.

    • ViktoryGin says:

      Link, please? Would love to see it.

  9. T.C. says:

    Most maid roles these days are played by Latina actresses. Good on her though to change the character from a maid to a librarian. She should be getting all those roles Hollywood gives to Halle Berry but just because she doesn’t look like a biracial supermodel she gets supporting roles. Never the love interest either. Just keep on keeping on Viola. You have talent and that’s what’s important.

    • maria says:

      As a Mexican, it irritates the crap out of me when I see us as maids or saying ay dios mio every other sentence, because you know, Hollywood.

      Viola is so talented and lovely too!

    • MST says:

      First of all, let me say that there’s nothing wrong with being a maid. My grandmother did domestic work for most of her life. She did it so her daughter didn’t have to. She’s long gone, but I think that she would be proud that all her grandaughters — and her great grandaughter — are college grads.

      There are still black women who work as domestics, but we are also lawyers, secretaries, mothers, teachers, and First Ladies! And you’re right, light-skinned actresses get to play leading roles, darker skinned women are always “supporting.” I really hate when they have us nurturing, advising, and supporting some white woman. Nothing against white women, but Hollywood thinks that black women, especially large, dark-skinned black women, all have some “inner Aunt Jemima” that is just waiting to come out and comfort, nuture and advise white folks and maybe cook a mess o’ pancakes, lawd have mercy. Uh, no.

      There are many Latinas who are domestics, but many who are not. My supervisor and adminstrator are both Puerto Rican, very accomplished women. It’s a shame that Latinas are either cast as 1) maids or 2) if they’re light skinned, as “hot” sexy bimbos. And I thought that Hollywood was supposed to be so liberal.

      It’s depressing that we’re still talking about this in 2013. Same shite, different decade.

      • hoya_chick says:

        PREACH MST! I completely agree.

      • T.C. says:

        MST,
        Wonderful post. I agree with everything you said.

      • Asiyah says:

        MST, Maria, and TC, I love your posts! I’m Latina and I am not a maid. Nothing wrong with being one. I think being a maid is an honorable job (yes, I’m serious and not being ironic), but when you lump all of us women of color into a particular category I have a problem with that. I don’t take movies to be totally representative of reality, but let’s not pretend that Hollywood doesn’t continue to stereotype minorities in the name of art or entertainment.

      • ViktoryGin says:

        No, there is nothing wrong with domestics but there is something wrong with the very limited range of expression that HW deems acceptable to show on screen. And while I can’t speak for everyone, that is the issue that I have. Viola Davis spoke about this in her interview with Oprah last year. I suppose only another black woman would listen. She’s either sexually avaricious and sassy or the “Salt of the Earth” at one primitive and progressive in her home spun wisdom. While there are far worse stereotype, it’s nonetheless limiting. And not just from HW casting directors (most of whom are presumably white) but it comes from blacks as well. Viola mentioned how after Doubt she was being flooded with script from young black screenwriters for roles as nothing but urban mothers. It wax like in their realm of experience, there were no other forms of expression. It’s the same with Latinas. Though Penelope Cruz is Spanish and is technically white Hispanic, she’s still conveniently lumped in with the rest if the Latin when she works Stateside. It wasn’t until I began watching her European filma that I recognized how tremendously talented she is, but you wouldn’t have known it with the HW undercuts her with the whole Latin seductress bullsh*t. I’m so glad that was finally able to break through. Now, I just wish that Sofia Vergara would find a new schtick.

      • Greenieweenie says:

        Exactly and this is why I love her wearing the hair. I remember during the first Obama election cycle, everyone was criticizing him for being too black, for entertaining Common at the White House, etc. Obama was only acceptable so far as he acted like a white man. And Hillary Clinton was only acceptable so far as she acted like a man as well…could not believe the misogynistic comments about her “sobbing” during an interview when she momentarily teared up after being called a cold bitch for weeks.

        Point is, society only accepts women and minorities as long as they act like white men. When society has to meet them halfway, they like to stereotype the Other into “not white/not male” boxes….argh. Really, you cannot pay ppl to think about these kinds of things for very long but they are so obvious and I am always completely bemused as to why others don’t see them!

  10. Aiobhan says:

    It irks me a little that Viola and Angela B do not have Oscars but Halle and JHud do. Having said that I really hope that she will finally be blessed with an Oscar soon. Maybe for one of the projects that she wants to produce or if Denzel hires her for the Fences adaptation that he wants to bring to the big screen.

  11. RHONYC says:

    i haven’t seen ‘The Help’ but i’ve always associated Viola with being a boss.

    as in the Kelis song “imma a B-O-S-S…i’m BOSS-AY!”

    all the roles i’ve like her in she was either playing a mayor (Law Abiding Citizen), a C.I.A. Director (Knight & Day), or an all around badass cop (in many roles)…so i’m kinda scratchin’ my head at this statement wondering wtf are you talking about, huh? 8O

    that being said, i LIVE for her hair!!! ;-)

  12. Miss Kiki says:

    On a wholly superficial note, I need that dress in my life.

  13. CC says:

    I just hope she does well. And yea, the typecasting thing, wasn’t that the problem with the black actresses that played the servants in gone with the wind? I hoped we as a society were past that, but I guess we’re not. Maybe because where I come from there aren’t a lot of black people, at least not in comparison with the UK-speaking countries, but all the maids I’ve seen around me were always white.

    Kinda rambling, but I hope she has the career she deserves and gets a break from the “maid” role if she doesn’t want it. She certainly deserve the opportunity.

  14. lucy2 says:

    I love her and will watch her in anything – she’s so talented, and awesome off screen as well.
    She absolutely should be at the stage of her career where she can pick and choose the characters she wants to portray. A lot of actors don’t have that luxury, but she sure has earned it.

  15. JL says:

    She is a greatly talented actress. I see the point about playing a maid, however who cares if it’s a good role of value (like the help) and it pays well?

    That role was too important for some subpar B list actress to play.

  16. Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

    What a beautiful lady – would like more stories on her – seems like the pages of the celeb pages are only about white people.

  17. SimpleRed says:

    Love me some Viola but I didn’t like the movie “The Help” geez that movie had me feeling a certain type of way….

  18. Annie says:

    Sad how all the bland white actresses take all the roles and women of color have to settle for the racially stereotypical roles. I bet there’s some amazing talent in young women of color but we’re stuck with Emma Stone, Emma Watson, Kristen Stewart…

    It was sad last year how the three people of color that were nominated in acting categories were playing maids and a gardener. Give them a chance!

    • diva says:

      Hollywood is missing out on some good talent but mediocre sells. These white actresses that are out now are all so bland and don’t stand out. I can’t tell the hunger games girl from the spiderman girl. It’s sad that in 2013 actresses/actors of color are still fighting to be seen. I’d love to see more representation of other ethnicity in movies and on tv. That’s how the REAl world looks now. Hollywood is so far behind.

  19. MsAubra says:

    I was watching the red carpet for the SAGS a few weeks back and I remember one of the people talking got her mixed up with Alfre Woodard. I see how it’s possible lol

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      I didn’t see that, but I saw it referenced on either Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert (white guys all look the same to me…in all honesty, I don’t remember which one it was) and just thought back to an AGES ago episode of Larry King I glanced in a channel surfing episode. He was talking to Iman and as they were showing pictures, I said to my sister, ‘Please tell me that half of these are not photos of Beverly Peele.’

  20. poppy says:

    she is a great role model for all women. she looks real. she acts real. i’ve never seen heard or read anything from her that was rude or vulgar or vapid. once she stole the spotlight she didn’t turn into a freak.

    hollywood is just a lousy place. those in charge pretend the masses can’t tolerate ANYTHING real or intelligent. there are tons of talented people getting nowhere because they don’t look “right” or have the right connections.
    don’t tell me there aren’t screenwriters crafting stories that are good with interesting characters of all shapes, races, ages, and classes.
    if those scripts could ever get pushed through i really believe there would be plenty of roles for POC, for the heavier, the handicapped, those over a certain age, etc. you know, a true sample of the actual world, especially our own country.
    but no, we can only have batman thrown at us 17 different ways. we can only have rom-coms with barbie in the lead role. we can only see the heavier celebrity as the jolly fat friend. non-white folks have to be subservient or on the side. and jesus, let’s only hire 100% “handi-capable” to play someone not, because, seriously, there isn’t someone w/o the use of their legs that can play someone w/o the use of their legs? not that those roles come up either.

    i didn’t see the help. i wouldn’t read the book. it was a crap story written by a hack to make white people proud of how far we’ve come, that was my impression reading about it. please. if there was anything of merit there, it came about 40 years too late.
    i like the readership here. i think it is a bunch of smarties with a lot of class. i think we all want to see something different. why hollywood doesn’t pick up on the fact people LOVED About Schmidt because it was a story that had kathy bates opposite jack nicholson instead of michelle pfeiffer. kathy bates is still 10 years younger than JN but it’s a start. and OMG she’s fat AND old!!!! (not my actual opinion) the film was different for its time. those odd little gems that make it past all the hollyweird bullsh*t win our hearts every time. they don’t always stand the test of time but in their moment they are exciting and new and enjoyable.
    people get sick of the same old same old. but that’s all we’re going to get.
    sorry for the rant, i just get so sick and tired of it.

    • LAK says:

      Firstly, Hollywood like any other industry is a business. This is what many people forget. The product that makes money is the product that gets made. We as the audience have the power to force a change with our viewing choices but we don’t.Studios have had to shut down their indie arms simply because they don’t make money.

      There is a saying….’will it play in Biose, Idaho?’. It’s not just Hollywood BS.

      There are tonnes of films on the festival circuit that showcase everything that you are saying, but they don’t get picked up for major distribution because people won’t go see them. ditto if they are in another language.

      If more people supported the few films that make it past the festival circuit and into the multiplexes, more would be made.

      Harvey Weinstein is one of few film makers/suppliers who concentrates on those niche films, and he can’t get his product out at any other time but award season. He has hijacked them for this very purpose.

      How many people would have gone to see THE ARTIST or even SLP if either film wasn’t highly visible during award season. I am not saying these are great films. Simply that the audience doesn’t seem to respond to these indie films without some special push.

      All the changes that have happened over the years are in response to audience demand.

      20yrs ago, being in a superhero film was laughable. Now it’s the mark of a movie star success.

      • Asiyah says:

        With all due respect, LAK, I disagree with you. Yes, Hollywood is a business, we know that, but it really isn’t like any other business because it seriously only caters to one particular kind of target audience. This is why films made by minorities don’t get enough play.

      • LAK says:

        you can disagree with me all you want, but it is a fact if audiences supported the films, they would get made.

        Tyler Perry stands out as someone in Hollywood supported by the audience. He has actually venture out of his comfort zone with FOR COLOURED GIRLS. did audiences support that film?

        If Harvey didn’t use the awards to push his films, most of which are indies taken from the festival circuit, they would sink without a trace.

        How many great sundance films have you seen at your local cinema that weren’t uplifted by the awards season?

        And if you want to see more ethnic actors in your mainstream films, support those films that have them. even if it means going several hours out of your way to do so. How do you think people like Sam L. Jackson made it into the spotlight? If THE HELP had sank without a trace, would we be having a conversation about Viola Davis? She’s been in loads of stuff which didn’t do so well, and so she wasn’t as visible to mainstream audience. And no one thinks THE HELP was Emma Stone’s film despite her having the lead role. It was Viola’s film.

        Hollywood responds to money at the BO.

      • Seagulls says:

        The phrase is actually, “will it play in Peoria?”

    • SandyStrange says:

      You know, I agree with poppy, but truth be told…even I don’t put to much trust in the masses being ‘intelligent’. I would love to see actors and actresses of all different sizes, colors, ages, ect., playing non-sterotypical roles, but would the majority of people want to see it? Nope. It’s a sad fact that the majority of the population, imho, is just not that intellectual. I mean, most people on this website are smart and sarcastic, but if you look elsewhere on the internet…yeah. It leaves A LOT to be desired.

      • Ranunculus says:

        @LAK

        Agree with you on this, big productions have a big advertising budget and can get their products out tenfold in comparison to small budget films.

        However, what I simply don’t understand is that with the internet being such a prominent information source nowadays, audiences simply don’t have to rely on TV ads, billboards and the like for info about up and coming movies.

        Numerous good movie websites exist, just a weekly visit would be enough to get information about those smaller movies that are quite often (not always) more intelligent and more thought provoking.

        Mainstream audiences seem to only consume what is conveniently been put in front of them. It’s a sad but true fact.

        Movie making, at least for me, is still an art form and part of our cultural heritage and identity, we should be a lot more critical about what movies we want to see.

      • LAK says:

        Ranunculus – You know that’s also the puzzler for me. That despite MORE ways to watch and advertise films especially with the advent of the internet, that these smaller films don’t get an audience.

  21. WendyNerd says:

    The way Hollywood limits the roles for women of color in film literally makes me ill. Women in Hollywood in general have a shitty selection — they almost always write the truly interesting characters for men— but white woman at least have a couple of options. Black/Latina/Asian/Arab/Native American etc? No. This is the Hollywood role selection for women of color:

    Black Women: Wise old maid/housekeeper/housewife/grandmother, allowed to be sassy or just quiet and wise until she gives her obligatory encouraging monologue to young white girl in the film. Sassy token black friend in the group of the main character’s friends who tells her to “get real”, “tell [someone] how it is” “KICK HIM TO THE CURB” and says “AW, HELL NAH!” a lot. slave or former slave who gets raped a lot. Abuse victim. Soulful singer. Prostitute.

    Latinas: Maid/housekeeper, often knows random demon-repelling rituals because she’s Catholic. Mystic. Emotionally unstable, freaky-aggressive hood rat who has to be restrained by others to keep her from kicking someone’s ass for the stupidest reasons ever. Loud, rapidly spanish speaking immigrant. Hot girl who either has a physically abusive father or an emotionally abusive mother who tries to keep her from doing things because she’s a girl. Saint. Prostitute. Spanish Soap Opera Star.

    Asian Women: Martial artist who is usually some man’s sidekick or significant other and almost never talks. Sex worker or just oversexed random chick who almost never talks. Servant or wife who never talks.

    Native American: Native American tribeswoman who is either some sort of mystic or some great warrior’s wife.

    Arab: Wife, concubine or servant of oil sheik, terrorist, or Arab Prince. Always covered from head to toe. Never talks. Sometimes a random activist.

    Indian: Outside of Bollywood, occasional love interest to a male indian character, or one of the Arab roles listed above.

    Persian: Same as Indian

    I remember seeing a clip fo “Trekkies” and seeing the bit where Whoopi Goldberg talking about when she first saw Star Trek. She saw Nichelle Nichols and went running to her mother saying “MOMMY! There’sa black lady on TV, and she isn’t a maid!” That was 1967 and frankly, I’M surprised (very pleasantly so, but still, surprised), even in this day and age when I see a black woman in a movie or on TV and she isn’t playing a maid (or the token “AW HELL NAH!” role). It’s 2013 and a non-maid-playing black actress is still a novelty.

    The only time you get some variety are in films/tv created as specifically “Black” or “Latino” TV and films. The designated “Black” or Hispanic” entertainment where almost everyone in the cast is Black or Latino. Because apparently it’s only okay for Black women to do other stuff when there aren’t white people around to witness it. And even then, it usually still sucks ass for the actresses who STILL rarely get good roles.

    Ladies and Gentlemen: The supposedly progressive Hollywood.

    Not that racism in Hollywood just applies to women, of course. Just look at the Transformers movies. But where there are some black male stars who have achieved a level of superstar status where they can just have any role— people like Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, etc— I can’t think of any Black actresses of the same status and it’s not because there aren’t any black actresses with the same level of talent and charisma (Halle Berry almost made it, but Catwoman fucked that up big time). Oh, and don’t say “Beyonce”, being a singer is what made her a superstar, not acting. Don’t say Oprah either, because even though she was in The Color Purple, she’s not really known for acting either. She’s known for her show and businesses and being a sort of lifestyle guru/journalist/interviewer/business magnate type. Whoopi Goldberg also doesn’t coutn because she had a HELL of a time getting any work even after winning an Oscar and has gotten the shitty end of the stick role wise forever despite having been a household name for years. There are black female superstars, but they are always superstars in other fields from acting, like music or stand up comedy or something like that.

    It just drives me nuts. People of color are always being blackballed in the mainstream acting field and women of color especially.

    I admire Viola Davis for taking a stand. People need to discuss this more. Hollywood needs to be called out about this more often. The more people do, the more people are aware of it, the bigger threat is to the image of many of these studios. Once you threaten their image and possible revenue as a result, they’ll have to listen.

    • SandyStrange says:

      +1 thanks for making me laugh, only b/c it is sadly all true.

    • MST says:

      You gotta laugh at this shite, or you’re gonna cry!

      @Kerry — thanks for the correction. But I still don’t like Goopy.

    • LAK says:

      Just like to say that Oprah is a film producer. If she can’t get intelligent film roles for women/ethnic people in general, given her platform, what hope mere mortals!!

      On a different note, there is alot of apathy and people complaining about the status quo without trying to change it.There are very few people who are motivated enough to do something about it. And apathy has led to fewer and fewer roles for ethnic actors in mainstream films.

      I loathe Tyler Perry BUT i admire that rather than whine about his lot and Hollywood, he went and created his own niche. Ultimately that’s what everybody in Hollywood does. whether it is Disney with their cartoons and family entertainment niche or Warner brothers with their superheros and fantasy films niche.

      Will smith is in a special category that transcends race. He gave a very interesting interview a decade ago about how he planned his career and it is brilliant.

      Essentially, he researched the most BO friendly films of Hollywood which turned out to be the schlocky B pictures, now retitled summer blockbusters.

      He decided to make purely those pictures. The great thing about them is that they are racially blind. From time to time he throws in a proper acting role but if you look at the type of proper acting role he chooses, it’s very much in the same vein of action hero archetype without the action therefore NOT too far away from his stock in trade. So he doesn’t alienate his core audience.

      • Ms Kay says:

        @ LAK true about Tyler Perry. I also personally found the hate/loathing for Perry in which people/journalists lambaste his canon (while making sure they quote his high profile black critics in order to ‘authenticate’ their own criticism) to be a bit silly. I can’t argue that Perry has done shoddy movies (even his better efforts), but he does serve a target audience (black, predominantly female and Christian) and has created his own niche that Hollywood has otherwise ignored. He shouldn’t take a kicking just because the bean-counters don’t green-light flicks that show different facets of the black experience. I mean Will Ferrell isn’t hauled over the coals for making white men look like proper buffoons, but obviously, he’s not the only show in town. Perry, whose hard fought trip to the top is hugely impressive whatever one thinks of his plays, movies and else, shouldn’t be chastised for peddling lowbrow comedy just because there isn’t a black Steven Spielberg or Spike Jonze to balance things out.

        Also, one thing that Perry’s critics traditionally ignore is the fact that his movies give leading roles to great black actors (Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, etc…) who are tragically underused by Hollywood. So as much as he can be loathsome, Perry has his merits indeed.

        Oh, and I absolutely love Will Smith but it would be nice to see him stepping out of his comfort zone… Denzel did, Samuel L. did, Idris Elba did, Morgan Freeman did, Jamie Foxx did…

      • LAK says:

        Ms Kay – funnily enough there are many black writer/directors in Hollywood. Making mainstream films. It’s kinda shocking. e.g Steve McQueen, Antoine Fuqua, Allen and Albert Hughes etc Not forgetting Spike Lee and John Singleton. I honestly feel like Spike Lee/John Singleton wanted the money that you get by directing mainstream fare. I don’t think they should be held to ransom to only make certain types of films, but it is sad that no one followed in their footsteps.

      • Ms Kay says:

        LAK – I absolutely love Spike Lee but lately he is more known for being the dude who was once upon a time a relevant film maker who now gets more column inches for trying to bring down other film makers nowadays. Plenty of film makers get knocked back by the Hollywood dumb-down effect, perhaps they need to be more creative with the distribution models.

        As for Singleton, I am still waiting for the next interesting flick, he was so promising and then I don’t know it lost its touch…

        As for McQueen, Fuqua, they are amazing but again Hollywood tragically underuses them and I can’t help it but have the feeling that it’s because of Fassbender newfound fame and being white that Hollywood gave the green-light on McQueen for 12 Years A slave and have the limes of Brad Pitt to line up (note to self : Brad Pitt being a fan of Fassbender before they worked in Inglorious Basterds is a bonus).. And good for McQueen don’t get me wrong, but its a pity because the guy is talented and he put Fassbender on the map and not the other way round. Anyway, African American actors/actresses/producers/directors definitely have limited access Hollywood.

        And if I may add… In Hollywood, even legendary George Lucas had to fight and ultimately use his own money to get an all-black film (Red Tails) made.

      • LAK says:

        Ms Kay – That whole George Lucas thing really, really annoyed me.

        The man has a virtual monopoly on special effects in Hollywood via his ownership of Industrial Light and Magic, as well as STAR WARS money. He is a billionaire. He could have financed and distributed that film himself, but he bitched and moaned about all the difficulty he went through which given how much he shafts fans just to get more money out of them from STAR WARS releases every few years made me so ragey.

        I can understand if a less well financed, less connected person tried to make that film and had trouble but George bloody Lucas wouldn’t use his own money until forced to do so. And then had the gall to call it a passion piece. Do you know who made a passion piece with his own money? Mel Gibson. It’s not even in English.

        George Lucas is a tit. There i said it. He makes me really ragey.

        Unfortunately, when the crash happened in 2008, many studios shut down their indie divisions. It’s alot harder to make indie style films or even passion pieces let alone a film focused on Ethnic groups if it isn’t a BO guarantee.

        I’m right with you with regards John Singleton. I wonder what made Spike Lee so bitter.

        McQueen and Fassbender are a winning team. The 2 projects they’ve worked on together were very well received so i think it’s a case of both their stars shining brightly together and elevating them together. McQueen doesn’t seem to work as often as Fassbender, but each time he does, he hits it out of the park. Plus he seems to be attracted to difficult subject matter which always takes forever to be green lit and or a star name to be attached and even then, one may never get it.

        I think Brad Pitt as a producer has been very interesting because many movie star producers tend to do vanity projects for themselves or stuff that is really mainstream or that has some sort of agenda eg George Clooney tends to produce politically themed films. Brad Pitt seems to make different genre films. And he seems to work alot with British film makers.

      • Greenieweenie says:

        I don’t mind Tyler Perry. His movies are honest. He says that’s what he grew up around. That might make Spike Lee uncomfortable because it is appealing to a certain stereotype but you can’t hate on telling the truth about reality. In the same way, I don’t get too bothered by rappers calling women bitches and hoes. Yes, it’s a sign of a society in disorder. If that bothers you, American public, DO SOMETHING to change the social forces that are creating it! Don’t shovel shit onto a slice of the population and then cry about how behaviour within is now so distasteful. Rappers are just reflecting what they grew up around. If that is so disturbing than start thinking about why they are growing up around it! My two cents anyway. :)

  22. Feebee says:

    I’m a little confused… The only maid role I’ve seen her has been The Help and the white girl writer aside, Viola’s character was the movie’s heroine, was she not? It was a movie about black maids of the era, surely this can’t be compared with a movie about nothing who happens to have a maid in it who is then either black or Latina.

    I agree with what she’s saying about the types of roles for African American women in Hollywood but The Help is a strange example.

    Ditto any comparison to Halle Berry. She has a white mother so while she identifies as black, she has a more European look. That doesn’t make her superior actress. It’s hard to compare apples and oranges, or in this case maybe Granny Smiths with Honeycrisps.

  23. KellyinSeattle says:

    Love her dress/gown and she is so beautiful!

  24. Chordy says:

    IMO Viola Davis is the greatest actor on planet earth (sorry, Meryl). Hollywood is doing us all a disservice if they can’t overcome their racial biases in casting. She will add nuance, grace and elegance to each role she takes on. As a writer, it would be my greatest dream to see Viola Davis interpret my work.

  25. emma says:

    I truly hope she can continue to get good roles. A shame there aren’t more leading black women.

  26. TXCinderella says:

    I first saw her in Doubt, and then in The Help and I’ve been a fan ever since. I think she is an excellent actress, and beautiful too. I hope she gets the accolades she deserves.

  27. Hoya_chick says:

    I just want to give a big hi five to all the awesomely insightful, well thought out and articulate posts on the matter. I didn’t want to reply to each and every post (but I read all of them!). This is the way to speak about racial stereotypes and gender roles and the media. No name calling, no one getting offended (and no one trying to offend anyone). I really love this site. Really expressing our views and being respectful, witty and honest. I could speak on the topic all day! Love all the comments.

  28. Buckle says:

    What if it’s a maid BUT still a good role?
    She was spectacular in Doubt. It was a relatively short scene but, to me, one of the most memorable scenes in acting, period!

  29. videli says:

    My favorite role of hers, though not necessarily the best, was an old one from Law and Order, Criminal Intent, when she played a villain. She played a corrupt cop, who was very intelligent, in control, and ruthless. She simply stole the show with that role. There’s very few occasions to see black women playing villains, and I loved it. Actually, now I remember that Whoopi Goldberg played a villain in the same show, and that wasn’t bad either.

    • Seagulls says:

      I didn’t even register that was her! Chilling role. I don’t even remember much about it except that she gave me the creeps. Well done, Ms Davis.

      I applaud her for taking a stand, although I would watch her act as a maid, a potato, or the POTUS. She’s excellent and seems like a sterling human, too.

  30. Mia says:

    I never watched The Help because like many mainstream Hollywood films I thought the premise was offensive, boring, and stupid, not to mention blatantly racist as opposed to insidiously racist as per usual but I did attempt to sit through The Iron Lady and I was shocked by Meryl’s poor performance and such a bad film about an interesting and controversial time in the UK’s history. So I know beyond a doubt that Meryl didn’t deserve the Oscar. I have seen Viola’s outstanding acting in Antwan Fisher and Doubt and she deserves better then being typecast as a maid in an insipid comedy the about Jim Crow of all things. I’m glad she’s speaking openly about it and is refusing to accept those kind of roles anymore. When is Hollywood ever going to grow up? Just how many more Batman remakes and blatantly racist and sexist movies are they going to continue to put out? This is why I love foreign and independent films. Even older films are better then the crap that’s out now. Could “The Color Purple”, “Five Easy Pieces”, or “Dog Day Afternoon” be original films made today?

  31. Annie says:

    Sadly, HW is devoid of imagination and EVERYONE gets stereotyped, only some of them are less demeaning. Think “Blond bombshell” and you’ll probably get a half dozen faces that pop up in your head. “Sultry dark haired siren” will do the same. “Debonair Playboy”? “Girl/Boy next door”? “Dangerous Bad Boy”? Yeah, they slot actors and actresses in and out of these predetermined niches and have been doing so for decades.

    Thank god for European cinema. The risk-adverse HW stuff is predictable, dull and aimed at the lowest common denominator.