How did Viola Davis rise beyond her impoverished upbringing?
by Ana Walia | Sat, 23 Apr 2022 18:52:41 GMT
Viola Davis on her childhood struggles and how she overcame it. Image Source: LA Times 

Viola Davis’ memoir, "Finding Me," is out on April 26th, 2022, and has been picked as Oprah’s Book Club selection.

During her appearance on Oprah+Viola: A Netflix Special Event, Viola Davis shared some of the heart-wrenching incidents from her childhood along with how her family survived in poor living conditions, rat infestation, etc.

The Oscar-winning actress shared that as she was growing up, she was aware that she was poor and it did not take her too much time to realize that since she grew up in a house with plaster coming off the walls and the family was always hungry. She dug deeper and started to talk about her hygiene conditions at the time and shared an incident that once she and her sister were called to the school office because of the way they smelled, but they had no idea what to do about it. She explained that people just automatically assume you just clean yourself, but they don’t unless someone shows them how to.

Viola added that she recalls that some days they did not have soap or even clean clothes to put on and had to hand wash them and would have either had to hang them outside where icicles would grow on them because of the weather or inside where they would never fully dry. She explained that people don't realize that if no one shows you how to do anything, you eventually have to figure it out for yourself, and she didn't have the tools or understanding to figure it out on her own at the time. Viola added that she use to feel guilty that she didn't have the means to figure it out on her own no matter how much she wanted to. All the actress could do was swim in shame, she claimed.

Viola recalled how she and her family had left the house during a Rhode Island winter and were approached by one of her school teachers who asked why she hadn't been to school. Her mother explained the family's hardship to the teacher, who had tears in her eyes after hearing about their living conditions and said they should let her know if they could help.

Viola was given a bag full of clothes that were her daughter's, but she felt like she was given a bag of jewels. Davis continued and said it's remarkable how compassion and empathy destroy the shame and because you're seen for something lot more than simply your circumstances when you're in the face of compassion and empathy. During the special for Netflix, Viola Davis also talks about various issues like facing sexual abuse, having an abusive alcoholic father, and other things that she has mentioned in her memoir in detail.

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At one point, she explained that there were no set boundaries for little girls, especially back then, and she mentioned that there were no social media back then where people could talk about the statistics of how many girls and women were molested. Viola Davis admitted that the pandemic kicked started her urge to write her memoir as she believed that she was having an existential crisis and was finding it hard to connect with the world, so instead of feeling exhausted and the pressure of people seeing her as a commodity, she decided to go back to her roots and pen it down.

Viola Davis shared that she was fourteen years old when she decided that she wants to be an actress and she really wanted a way out of the life she was living. At the age of 14, she won a major art contestant and that helped her see light inside of her. With her handwork, dedication and self-confidence she started working and look where is she now. She explained that one of the reasons why people work hard is because they are motivated by their trauma and it's motivated by the fact if they stop, that somehow means that they are not worthy which is not true. 

The actress who is known for the playing Annalise Keating on 'How to Get Away with Murder' said that playing her was liberating for her as the character allowed her to liberate in obstacles blocking her from realizing her worth and power as a woman. 

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In conclusion, the actress mentioned that the book is a gift to others and said that now she is living for her peace and joy. Oprah also said, in a tearful voice, that in finding herself she has helped everyone. Viola Davis is recently seen on-screen portraying the character of former First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama and shared in an interview that she was really scared to be Michelle Obama on screen because people know how she looks, how she talks, and what a great personality she is.Oprah Winfrey also shared that when she finished the first paragraph of her book, she called up everybody to tell them that she is going to pick this book as a book club pick. 

The Netflix special of Oprah Winfrey and Viola Davis is streaming on Netflix right now and Viola's memoir 'Finding Me' is out on April 26th.