Viola Davis: On TV, ‘if you are anywhere above a size 2, you’re not having sex’

ELLE_FEB 16_Viola Davis_Cover Text

Elle Magazine’s annual Women In Television issue is out, and props to Elle for highlighting the fact that American television today is so much more diverse than film. While this year’s Oscar season has seen endless all-white cover subjects, Elle gave covers to Taraji P. Henson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Priyanka Chopra, Viola Davis and Olivia Wilde. CB will be covering Julia and Olivia in another post! I’m so happy that Elle didn’t just practice tokenism here, and give one cover to a woman of color and keep the rest of cover subjects white. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Priyanka has gotten a lot of buzz this season (she might be considered the breakout), and Viola is the reigning Best Actress Emmy winner, and that Taraji had a great year too. Here are some highlights from Elle:

Priyanka Chopra on her Quantico character: “Why should a woman have to pick between global domination and having the love of her life?”

Taraji on Cookie: “It was very important to me that she not be sassy and neck-rollin’ and eye-bulgin’ and attitude all the time. Everything she does is coming from a place of fighting for her family. That’s why she’s not a caricature.”

Viola Davis on How to Get Away With Murder: “We’ve been fed a whole slew of lies about women.” By TV standards, “if you are anywhere above a size 2, you’re not having sex. You don’t have sexual thoughts. You may not even have a vagina. And if you’re of a certain age, you’re off the table.”

[From Elle]

Why is it when Amy Schumer says something about “vagina,” I want to roll my eyes, but when Viola uses that word, I want to cheer? So, yes, I love what Viola is saying. She’s been saying it for a while now: representation is power. When women of color see themselves represented in television, film and media, that’s empowering. When women older than 33 see a 50-year-old woman as the lead of a TV show, that’s powerful. When women see characters played by actors or all shapes, sizes and colors, that’s HOW IT SHOULD BE.

PS… Viola is working the hell out of that suede.

ELLE_FEB 16_Priyanka Chopra_Cover Text

ELLE_FEB 16_Taraji P. Henson_Cover Text

ELLE_FEB 16_Viola Davis_Marked

Photos courtesy of Cedric Buchet, Dan Martensen & David Bellemere/ELLE.

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47 Responses to “Viola Davis: On TV, ‘if you are anywhere above a size 2, you’re not having sex’”

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  1. Luca76 says:

    All 5 women are gorgeous but Violas cover is my favorite, she just looks so alive and it’s refreshing to see her.

    • msd says:

      She looks funky and relaxed on the cover, and so young!

    • Denisemich says:

      I don’t like the brown suede on Viola. I would have loved to see her in a strapless dress.

      Anyway, Viola is always A+.

      I can’t tell if Media is a reflection of how we view women and minorities or if Media is creating how we view women and minorities.

      I would love to see a minority head a major television network or movie company.

      • Lama Bean says:

        Ditto. I feel like the brown clashes with her skin tone.

      • FLORC says:

        I’m no fan either. The fabric looks like a matte. Muted even. Not very nice with skin that glows like hers.

      • Alarmjaguar says:

        I didn’t like it in the cover shot, but in the full shot, it looks great

      • DragonWise says:

        I agree. Love the hair, makeup, and jewelry and it’s a nice dress, but absolutely the wrong color. It washes out the warm copper tones in her gorgeous skin and makes her look ashier. Also, she isn’t lit very well, either. As a fellow black woman only a few shades lighter than her, I know the pain of poor lighting in photos!

    • Londonfields says:

      Viola looks gorgeous! That cover shot is amazing.

  2. Snazzy says:

    Yup, TV’s the place to be right now!
    And love those covers, they all look amazing

  3. LAK says:

    I love the stripped back, more natural look of Viola and Priyanka’s covers. Really showcases their looks.

    I’ve always thought Priyanka was overly made up, but that’s Bollywood for you.

  4. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Three beautiful woman. Viola’s comment made me laugh.

  5. QQ says:


  6. Esmom says:

    I love all the photos although I don’t like the lack of pants on Taraji. And Viola speaks the truth about the stereotypes on TV, so nice to see the tide starting to turn.

    • FLORC says:

      But it’s been turning for some time now. Healthy bodies do get the hot scenes. Her comments are very much the majority, but I can’t get behind using an absolute word like “Not”.
      A scene in Battle Creek… Maybe 2nd to last episode had the office manager with the lead. She’s not a size 2.

      • tracking says:

        True. Lots of lovely non-size-2 women in romances on tv now: Mindy Kalling, Rachel Bloom, Sara Ramirez etc. Thankfully, more diversity too. Not that there doesn’t remain room for improvement! I do think ageism is the hardest nut to crack, and am glad that women like Viola are leading the way. Love, love her cover and her.

    • Jaxx says:

      I don’t care about Taraji being pantless, but it just kills me that someone stuck pin holes all over the lapels of the darling red leather jacket.

  7. Div says:

    Viola forever. I’m still mad that she lost out on the Oscar to Meryl Streep.

  8. I Choose Me says:

    I wish Taraji’s pose on that cover was less ‘oops almost showed my naughty bits’ but she’s got great legs and that jacket as well as her hair and makeup looks fab.

    Love, Priyanka’s cover as well but Viola’s is the standout for me. She looks so effing regal.

  9. V4Real says:

    Brings back what I said on the post where the young lady actress was told she was too fat for a role. Maybe that’s another reason Black women in Hollywood are not getting deserving roles, the studio might consider them with their curves too fat. Double whammy Black and curvy.

  10. Kiki says:

    I am just loving that diversity is reigning supreme. #diversityrules.

    • Naya says:

      If you want to keep the diversity going then please buy a copy. The industry needs to know that having beautiful women of color on the cover doesnt kill sells.

    • Marty says:

      What a time to be alive! Now if only we could get the film industry to catch up.

  11. lilacflowers says:

    Viola looks fantastic. Viola’s use of words is fantastic and makes a valid point, as opposed to being simply vulgar for shock value (Amy). Viola IS fantastic

  12. TorontoE says:

    All the covers are beautiful but Priyankas’s “Daddy’s lil girl” tattoo is a little odd. It reminds me of the tshirt Margot Robbie wears in the suicide squad photos.

  13. Esther says:

    “Why should a woman have to pick between global domination and having the love of her life?”

    its called being an adult, choices and compromises. which man has both? the CEO who sees his wife 3 times a year? The president who because of his jobs will never see his own daughers live a free life? what people like that expect is that the other person completly gives up their own life to let it revolve around theirs. why would anyone want to be with someone with such a big ego?

    • LookyLoo says:

      Or you could be with someone who shares your vision …

      • Esther says:

        and live the most unequal relationship possible? where everything revolves around one person and the other has next to no power? (and is usually replaced, look at all those “political wives”)
        what vision by the way? personal power? having drones invade sovereign nations? selling pants in every country on the planet?

        this whole “having it all” is so damaging and anti feminist.

        i never quiet get american feminism it only seems to focus on the 1% women.

    • Snowflake says:

      I agree. It’s unrealistic thinking. You marry a powerful man with money, they more than likely wont be home much. It’s rare, IMO, to see two equal partners who both make money and are powerful and successful. Usually guys like that need someone to take care of the home front as they are rarely there. So they pick women with a lesser or no career who don’t mind arrañging their life around him. In exchange, the woman gets money doesn’t have to work. There are women who are ok with that. Or it can be the opposite, like jlo with Casper. He can be the supportive spouse. It’s rare, IMO, to see two successful, career oriented people like zuckerburg and his wife. In their cases, they prob pay people to take care of the day to day stuff. It’s not possible to have it all and do it all yourself.

    • perplexed says:

      Was she talking about herself or a character? I just thought she was talking about a fictional state of mind on tv, and in that case, a man probably gets to have both on a tv show (I think? I don’t know — I don’t watch a lot of spy shows. I know James Bond sleeps around a lot…)

  14. Naya says:

    Mental note to get buy three copies. I dont read glossies but the editors need to know that you dont need a skinny blonde 20 year old cover girl to sell copies.

  15. Murphy says:

    Man I’m glad it isn’t like that in real life!

  16. mp says:

    Representation is power – PREACH! Love this. There have been talented minority actors for years, and I’m glad they are finally casting shows so that white americans can get away from stereotypes that surround black people/asian people.

  17. Farhi says:

    Taraji’s cover is try hard and trashy ( let’s call a spade a spade here). Love Viola’s cover. So classy and elegant.

    • Pandy says:

      Yeah she had the weakest cover. Agree. And I had to laff at Viola’s comment about having no vag over 50. Good one!!

  18. Gina says:

    I’m sorry. But why are we such hypocrites? When we discuss male actors, we use words like “hot”, “bangable”, “list of actors I would do” and if the male actor is not sporty/lean/groomed you all write “meh”. But somehow you want female actors be of all “shapes and sizes”? When I watch TV I personally like looking at beautiful people. And “equality” will not make aging not so pretty woman a sexy starlet. And I don’t see any problem with that. But Viola does. It’s like she’s incapable of talking about anything else. jeez

    • Locke Lamora says:

      But we live in a world in which Benedict Cumberbatch is a sex simbol and in which Kevin James gets to be married to Leah Remini and Adam Sandler gets to be married to Salma Hayek. Name one movie or TV show where the opposite is true.

      • fiona says:

        Thank you Locke. Couldn’t have said it better myself. We find all kinds of men sexy. nerdy, dorky, super hot Thor types, chunky but loveavble Chris pratt, older, younger. Men get to be different kinds of sexy for different women. Whereas we have a very narrow window for what is considered attractive for women. The media tells us that only 18-28 year old women are attractive. 28 for a man is young & starting out with the world. A 28 year old woman should consider settling down because she is expiring goods. “Older” 28-38 which I don’t even consider older but whatever. Must be EXCEPTIONAL to rise above this rule such as supermodels & Kate beckinsale. However once they hit their mid 40′s they might as well stop trying because they get bashed for wearing flattering dresses that showcase their features. Time to get to a retirement home. Women must also be caucasian or mixed but only with caucasian features/look as white as possible. No more than a size 4. That’s our very narrow window of beauty.

  19. kri says:

    WHEN will it stop?!! When?? This size thing is outrageous. All of these ladies are lovely and interesting. Why can’t a size 6 or 12 or 20 woman be lovely or interesting? Is it because men are the real size queens here? Those who run hollywood are mostly old, white and rich and entrenched. Okay, so who is responsible? Is it us as consumers? As women? I don’t know anymore. I”m just sick of the game. Any woman of any size can be sexy, sexual and should be. Sigh. Rant.

  20. Marianne says:

    Priyanka is so damn gorgeous. I would go gay for her. Seriously.

  21. Lucy2 says:

    Three gorgeous women. Priyanka is especially stunning.
    Viola is awesome and comes at topics from such a place of intelligence and experience, you can’t help but take her seriously.
    Don’t love the suede or Taraji’s missing pants pose, but love that these 3 got covers and are kicking butt on TV.

  22. La La Land says:

    Disagree. I’m a biggum over 40 (as size 10 constitutes lol) .. and have no issues. If overrated/overexposed Amy Schumer can catch a d—, so can just about any of us. Get over your PC self, Ms. Davis.
    And please stop acting like you’re always on stage at a theater. Oh right, you work for Shonda Rhimes. zzzzz

  23. yvrjanice says:

    I just saw Amy Schumer in “Trainwreck” and thought it was fabulous! However, I was shocked that she was the title character as she looked about a size 8 – 10, just like me. I’m not used to seeing women of my size on tv, and believe me, I’m of very average size for where I live. Cheers for Amy and all future representations!

  24. poppy says:

    maybe because schumer ran it into the ground. love her but hopefully she will come up with something new for the next season because schumer makes valid points about women and society. her thing about how easy it is to get a gun compared to birth control was hilarious and true.
    viola is right as well.