Viola Davis Opens up About the Lack of Freedom of Black Women on Screen

Viola Davis

The Oscar-winning actress spoke about the challenges she encountered since she was a student at Julliard School.

American actress Viola Davis showed her heart for the challenges she initially faced as a black acting student at Julliard.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the 55-year-old Oscar winner spoke about her latest film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which also earned her a Golden Globe nomination this year.

Looking back at the moment he saw the on-stage adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

“It was like I was seeing a famous singer that I loved privately, even though I didn’t even know who Ma Rainey was,” he said.

Davis said that during his time at Julliard, he never performed any works by August Wilson, who is known for his cycle of 10 shows surrounding the 20th-century African-American community.

He went on to reveal that the reason for this was because the few black students in his graduating class were not chosen enough for the programs.

“I can’t say that I don’t appreciate my training there, but I didn’t find a sense of belonging. It was a place that taught Eurocentric classical theater as if it were the Bible, and for me, like a chocolate curly-haired girl, there was no way to get in, “he said.

“To act in Shakespeare, or George Bernard Shaw, or Eugene O’Neill, I felt that what was required of me was to make any hint of my blackness disappear, which would somehow be a good thing if the audience could forget that I was black” he continued saying.

“There is still a feeling that a woman has to look a certain way and be of a certain age to be sexual on screen. And if those rules are broken, they are only broken for white actresses. And they are wonderful actresses: Meryl Streep in ‘Hope Springs’ or Diane Keaton in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’. But I don’t feel like that same freedom has been extended to black women, especially black or dark-skinned women. I just don’t see it, “he said.


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