AceShowbiz - Viola Davis has opened up about her constant struggle as a woman of color trying to succeed in Hollywood at The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast. Accepting the Sherry Lansing Award at The Milk Studios on Wednesday, December 5, the actress compared her struggle to a horrifying bit of imagery in "The Exorcist".
"You know the scene in 'The Exorcist' where Linda Blair is tied to the bed, clearly possessed by demons, and has 'help me' written on her stomach?" she asked the audience who included Ke$ha, Mandy Moore, Awkwafina and Lupita Nyong'o. "That's how I feel every day in this Hollywood community and in my life trying to live my authentic life."
She continued explaining how black characters in movies had always been marginalized. "We have to be maternal, we have to be the savior, we have to make that white characters feel better, we don't have vaginas as black women," she said. "I got tired of celebrating movies that didn't have me in it. I don't mean me as Viola, I mean me as a black woman."
The "How to Get Away with Murder" actress then urged those in power in the industry to show more authentic black female characters, telling them to "stop taming us." Referencing her production company with husband Julius Tennon, she concluded, "My big thing with JuVee Productions is there is no limit to how we see narratives with people of color. That there's only so much I am gonna kowtow to this business and my gift to anyone is that: Don't let anybody tell you who you are."
.@violadavis describes what it’s like to keep hold of her identity in Hollywood: Like the little girl in “The Exorcist” who managed to write “help me” on her stomach while still being possessed by demons. #WomenInEntertaiment pic.twitter.com/0iIyD209sJ— Carly Mallenbaum (@ThatGirlCarly) 5 Desember 2018
After a video of her speech made its way round the internet, many internet users started praising the actress for speaking up about women of color's struggle. "I have so much respect for you and appreciate you speaking your truth. It's time for us all to speak up and be real," one user wrote, while another confessed that s/he was crying when watching the speech.