THE LAST WORD... ‘ If you are in this business for awards, business ’ you’rere in the wrong
WITH HOWTOGETAWAYWITHMURDER’S VIOLA DAVIS
“HOWToGetAwaywithMurder has changed my life. No one was writing like this for me in the movies. Often times [in movies] I’m the third girl from the left. You may have the talent of a Meryl Streep or a Julianne Moore but [you get] the role of the spear carrier.
And when that happens, nobody can see you shine. I feel like this is the first time that I’m fully a woman. [Executive producer] Pete Nowalk has dared to write something that pushes the boundaries – that’s bold, that’s dramatic, that’s sexualised, that’s messy.
It felt good [having the idea for the show’s infamous ‘wig scene’ – where Annalise Keating retreats to her bedroom and takes off her wig and makeup].
I felt that if I played a woman that was all about this [her job as a law professor] that I would fail miserably.
What I do as an actor is to give you a glimpse of what this person’s life is like when the doors are closed.
It was my way of womaning up. And I knew it would have an impact too, you know?
But my favourite scene was when Ms Cicely Tyson [as Annalise’s mother Ophelia] put me in the middle of her legs and parted my hair, and was scratching my head. Because, for me, it’s so familiar in my life.
And any African American can say that they grew up with that moment. I used to do it to my mother, growing up. My mum came from the Deep South; so did I. I and would part her hair, and I would scratch it. And it’s so specific, you know, and it’s so simple. But I always say the simple moments are the most revolutionary.
There was something about playing that moment that made me feel proud of our show. I hope that it landed on people.
If you are in this business for awards, you’re in the wrong business. It’s like being in it for money or laughs.
I think the most difficult part of doing television is becoming a Mr Potato Head character.
All of a sudden people start saying “she’s not likeable. Why did she say that to him? Why isn’t she strong in life?”
And then, when you get tired, what happens is that you want people to like you. You just want to plug into something that you feel is going to work immediately, and then that’s when you start compromising your soul as an artist.”