Viola Davis Was Initially Unsure of Role in "The Help"

Viola Davis Was Initially Unsure of Role in "The Help"

The actress acknowledges her fear of playing a maid in buzzed-about film.

Published July 11, 2011

Oscar buzz has started for the already Academy Award-nominated actress, Viola Davis, for her role in the highly buzzed-about film, The Help. However, in her cover story for Essence magazine, Davis shared that she wasn’t exactly ecstatic to play a suffering Black maid in segregated 1960s Mississippi. She admitted she was hesitant to attach her name to the project.


Davis explained: “Of course I had trepidations. Why do I have to play the mammy? But what do you do as an actor if one of the most multifaceted and rich roles you’ve ever been given is a maid in 1962 Mississippi? Do you not take the role because you feel like in some ways it’s not a good message to send to Black people? No.” David added, "The message is the quality of the work. That is the greater message… As Black women, we’re always given these seemingly devastating experiences—experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as Black women is take the worst situations and create from that point.”

The Help
is in theaters on August 10. 

(Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

Written by Michael Arceneaux


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