When The Help was released in 2011, there was some criticism that the film harkened back to an old movie tradition of showcasing Black women as maids and white characters as their saviors.
Viola Davis defended her role at the time, which earned her an Oscar nomination. Over the years, she has expressed regret in playing Aibileen Clark and now she is opening up more about her thoughts on the film.
In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Davis said, “Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity. They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but…it’s catering to the white audience. The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were.”
She continued, “There’s no one who’s not entertained by The Help. But there’s a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn’t ready to [tell the whole truth],” the Oscar winner added.
Back in 2018, she also told The New York Times, “Almost a better question is, have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted? I have, and The Help is on that list.”
She added, “But not in terms of the experience and the people involved because they were all great. The friendships that I formed are ones that I’m going to have for the rest of my life. I had a great experience with these other actresses, who are extraordinary human beings. And I could not ask for a better collaborator than Tate Taylor.”
Despite the controversy, The Help was a massive hit, grossing over $216 million at the box office.