The new movie The Help hit theaters this week and it’s also hitting a lot of hot buttons among African-Americans.
In this week’s Entertainment Weekly, actresses Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone share the magazine’s cover and discuss the film’s backlash. Davis, a two-time Tony award–winner and Oscar nominee, 46, admits she was initially suspicious, “because a white woman was writing what I felt was our story, and once again she’s going to get it wrong.” But she fell for the characters because she says they are complex enough to be whole.
Davis’ costar Spencer, 39, is much more blunt. “It should not be ‘Why is Viola Davis playing a maid in 2011?’ I think it should be ‘Viola Davis plays a maid and she gives the f---ing performance of her life.'”
For both actresses, especially Davis, the lack of good Black roles is a cultural issue more than a Hollywood issue. Davis explains, “Black actresses have enough obstacles in our way without someone protesting an opportunity for us to show our work on screen.” The film also stars the incomparable Cicely Tyson.
The award-winning actress’s next film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, hits theaters January 2012 and stars Jeffrey Wright, along with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.
(Photo: Terrence Jennings/PictureGroup)