Re­grets, she’s had a few… and is brave to ad­mit it

The Observer - - Comment & Analysis - Vi­ola Davis

Plenty of peo­ple have re­grets over past pro­fes­sional de­ci­sions. I have my doubts about the wis­dom of try­ing out as a de facto shop se­cu­rity guard for one sin­gle, ill-ad­vised shift, af­ter it tran­spired that you couldn’t pre­vent shoplift­ing just by wish­ing cus­tomers wouldn’t nick things.

I might have been in­cor­rect in declar­ing that the first ever episode of Broad­church was so silly that it re­minded me of a French and Saun­ders par­ody. Both wrong, in in­signif­i­cant lit­tle ways, but in the pub­lic eye, when the sub­jects are se­ri­ous and the im­pact widereach­ing, it’s al­ways strik­ing to hear peo­ple re­assess­ing their old choices, be­cause the free­dom to do so seems in­creas­ingly rare.

Hay­ley Wil­liams, lead singer of the pop-rock band Paramore, whom I am far too long in the tooth to love in the teen-fan way that I do, an­nounced on stage that she would be re­tir­ing the 2007 sin­gle Mis­ery Busi­ness from their live set. Its lyrics (“once a whore, noth­ing more”) have a tinge of catty spite that be­trays her youth when she wrote it and she’s spo­ken be­fore about be­ing un­com­fort­able with its mes­sage now. Be­fore giv­ing it one last airing at a home­town show in Nashville, she ded­i­cated it to “ev­ery bad de­ci­sion that led us here… to all the em­bar­rass­ing things we might have said, but we owned up to it and we grew”.

The in­es­timable Vi­ola Davis re­cently of­fered a thought­ful ex­am­i­na­tion of her Os­carnom­i­nated turn as Ai­bileen in The Help in the New York Times. When asked about any re­grets she had over roles that she had passed on, Davis turned the ques­tion. “Al­most a bet­ter ques­tion is, ‘Have I ever done roles that I’ve re­gret­ted?’” she replied, go­ing on to talk about her lack of ease with how The Help turned out. “I just felt that at the end of the day it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” she said.

The di­rec­tor Ava DuVer­nay tweeted her sup­port, adding that she had worked as a pub­li­cist on the film, her last PR job, and that it gave her the push she needed to make her own movies.

These sto­ries are vastly dif­fer­ent, of course, but in their own ways they speak to an ac­knowl­edg­ment that choices can be, sim­ply, com­pli­cated and change­able. In the act of doc­u­ment­ing ev­ery­thing, so­cial me­dia has the cu­ri­ous ef­fect of mak­ing opin­ions seem per­ma­nent and fixed, as if peo­ple don’t ob­vi­ously, in­evitably, change as time – and times – move on. These kinds of dis­cus­sion feel like a tiny crack in the rigid­ity of such think­ing.

Pho­to­graph by Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Vi­ola Davis: un­happy about her role in The Help.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.