Viola Davis to her kid at Xmas: You’re not getting an iPhone, you’re not getting a camera

I love watching Viola Davis’s interviews so much, and she’s especially good on Jimmy Kimmel’s show. They riff off each other and it’s hilarious to see. I highly recommend watching her latest interview with Kimmel, below. I’m going to transcribe my favorite parts but if you want some joy in your morning, watch it. Viola is promoting Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, on Netflix now. She’s getting best actress buzz. I haven’t seen it yet but I’ll be watching it over Christmas break!

Viola cracked me up so much when she talked about her daughter Genesis’s Christmas list. Genesis is ten and wants a lot of things, but it doesn’t matter how much money they have, Viola said she’s not getting most of them. Viola, who grew up in Rhode Island, also said she used to stick her tongue on icy poles in the winter when she was a kid, just like on A Christmas Story! I almost made that the headline because it’s so funny. She has a trick for getting your tongue off though.

She used to put her tongue on cold poles when she was a kid
I loved putting my tongue right onto those cold poles and then your tongue would stick on it in the cold. You know it’s in that it’s in that movie [A Christmas Story]. I put my damn tongue on a cold pole to see if it stuck and then I couldn’t get it off unless I spit on it and I used to love that.

On her daughter wanting a ton of stuff for Christmas
My daughter is ten going on 30. She says ‘mommy I know Santa is the guy they hire at the mall every year who has a big stomach and a white beard’ don’t even play that. This is the first year she made a list. She had things on that list where I had to say ‘let me tell you something OK Genesis. I don’t care how much money you think mommy has 98% of the stuff on this list you’re not gonna get. I don’t care how nice you are, you’re not getting that iphone, you’re not getting that camera with the tripod on it. You’re not getting half the stuff on this list.’ That’s the kind of mommy I am.

I said ‘Do you know how much that iPhone costs? $365. Do you have $365? I’m not spending that on a phone.’

[From Jimmy Kimmel Live on YouTube]

After that Viola talked about the teacher who made a huge difference in her life, her English teacher, Mr. Yates, who was also the drama coach. Viola always remembers the people who helped her when she was a kid! When she was 14 Viola was in a school play and Mr. Yates told her she could make a living being an actress. She said she keeps in touch with him and that Mr. Yates actually came to her wedding. It turns out Viola’s mom invited about 40 extra people to Viola’s wedding. She had a guest list of 85 people but ended up with so many more because her mom would just tell everyone she ran into to come.

How does Viola have such cute stories every time she goes on talk shows? She’s one of the best at that and she makes me happy every time I see her. As for telling Genesis she’s not getting a $365 iPhone, I love that. $365 is the cheapest iPhone there is, that’s the base model iPhone SE! Genesis probably thought she was aiming low and Viola shot that down. So many other parents just let their kids get whatever they want for Christmas if they can afford it, but Viola is teaching Genesis to value money and wait for a reward.

Here’s that interview!


photos via Instagram

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17 Responses to “Viola Davis to her kid at Xmas: You’re not getting an iPhone, you’re not getting a camera”

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  1. Mignionette says:

    Where is Viola finding iphone’s for $365?

    Sister-girl needs to hook me up.

    • Betsy says:

      Not new ones, but on people’s facebook groups, there are a lot to be had for $50-150. Thanks to people who insist on upgrading asap, there are a lot to be had if you don’t mind a slightly used phone.

  2. Betsy says:

    Good for her! We don’t have that kind of money anyway, but I’m pretty anti-big fancy Christmas presents. It just makes me sick to think of all the kids whose parents struggle to put food on the table, let alone get presents let alone compete in the annual tradition of trying to one up other people’s fancy Christmases. I think of those kids who die a little bit when they know their “haul” (I hate that word, but it fits here) doesn’t stack up.

    I have loved this actress ever since that Law and Order CI she was on. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but she was stone cold scary in that role. I’m looking forward to watching Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom!

  3. Sunday says:

    Viola Davis is a delight and a treasure, and I’m so glad she’s getting the buzz she deserves for Ma Rainey. I can’t wait to see what she does next, she’s one of those actresses that can truly do it all.

  4. Nina Simone says:

    Love her!! She can do no wrong. And also, y’all should check out ma Rainey. It was wonderful. Chadwick was so good in it

  5. Eleonor says:

    Viola is amazing.
    And bravo for saying NO.
    I am an amateur photographer, and I have bought some fancy stuff for me, I have seen parents around Christmas going shopping with their 10/11yo children and buying them whatever they ask. I am all for supporting your children passion, but honestly I wouldn’t let them “buy” a 2000 euro camera because they want to.

  6. Blairski says:

    You were right – this interview was a delight! I watched the next one that came up on the YouTubes, which was Jimmy Kimmel interviewing Taylor Swift. Hoo boy, not a good contrast. Not to take anything from Taylor as a singer-songwriter, but Viola is so smart, engaging and funny in this interview!

  7. lucy2 says:

    Good for her! It’d be so easy to just give in, but I know she grew up poor and isn’t going to go overboard with her own kid.

    I’m honestly kind of shocked at the money some parents spend on their kids at Christmas. Friends of mine are considering a new iphone 11 or 12 for their kid! It’s so much, and you know that’s not the only thing they’d get. Big ticket items, or the people who post the huge pile of presents to the point where it’s so much the kid can’t appreciate any of it.
    My family has reduced the amount we spend on each other, and I end up buying more stuff for giving trees and kids charities and stuff instead.

  8. Desert Lizard says:

    Thank you, Mr Yates, for encouraging Viola Davis to act professionally. The industry is better for her being part of it and my life is better for enjoying her talent.

  9. ItReallyIsYou,NotMe k8 says:

    It’s nice to hear a celebrity talking about teaching their kids about money. We are not struggling financially this year, but my kids are each getting 2 presents, one from Santa and one from the parents. None of these presents cost more than $50. They have plenty of toys and what they really want is to go swimming or to the park and get books from the library. so instead of buying more stuff they don’t need, they helped us pick out toys and clothes for needy families and they loved it just as much.

  10. Lizzythe2 says:

    The last thing I saw Viola on was Widows. The movie itself was great as it was interesting and had twists that I loved. Viola and the other ladies were amazing. Hope you all have seen it.

  11. GreensRGood says:

    I love Viola’s interviews and when she talks about her experience with poverty. On phones, I have to agree. Maybe 10 years ago it was worth paying more for a premium/flagship model. But now there are so many cheap phones that do the job very, very well. Huge, decent screens; snappy processors; okay photos. I only read the odd few pages of ebooks, read the news, and check email pretty much, beyond texting and calls. I used to go on expensive contracts and buy the most expensive phones and didn’t get anything out of it. I’m not into photos or gaming so what exactly was I paying $1,000+ a year for?!!!

  12. Implicit says:

    Hold up I’m Here for everything except for the daughters request for creative expression there’s no reason why she shouldn’t get a camera and tripod especially with her mom being Viola Davis! I’m sorry but half the time I don’t give my kid what he wants creatively it’s because I can’t afford it. Give me a break if she wanted acting a lesson I’m sure she’d pay for that so give her a dang camera why can’t creative people support other creative people when they want to do something creative that’s different than what they do!? Ugh bye I love her BTW but that sucks

  13. FF says:

    I think it depends on what the conversation around presents is. If there’s a consensus of general gift giving and what you get, you get, then okay, no problem.

    But if it’s a, “what do you want for Christmas?” Then when you say, you’re told, “Well, I’m not getting you that”. Then, no, not really.

    Either don’t ask, and just gift generally. Or ask and get it, otherwise don’t ask. I don’t see the point of gift filtering if you’re going to ask (I mean you can say “what do you want for under $×”) – unless, of course, it’s a wholly inappropriate ask of a present.

    If you think it’s too expensive give $x towards it and tell the kid she has to make the rest up. But just going nope I’m not getting it when you can afford it is weird. Worse, when you announce it to the world so her friends can rub it in later.

    Unless your kid doesn’t know you can’t afford it, in which case just have a cute convo with them, I don’t see the point of this. I don’t ever remember asking for something as a child, if I knew it was already off the money menu.

  14. Mimi09 says:

    My mom was like that! I was obsessed with Barbies and it’s the one present I asked for all the time. My mom kept refusing, without giving me any reason. Money was not an issue. I got my first Barbie as a surprise present from my teacher. I got the mumps, then the measles, and I was home sick for a long time. My teacher visited me and she gave me Tahiti Barbie! It’s one of the nicest childhood memories I have. It took me 3 years, but I finally got my Barbie!