STOP TAMING US, SAYS DAVIS
Actor and producer Viola Davis gave a rousing speech about leadership and authenticity to a wellheeled crowd of Hollywood power players at an event in New York, USA.
Davis, who was being honoured with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, said that when she thinks of the idea of leadership Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to mind, and that she is trying through her production company to embrace women of colour as they really are.
“There is no limit to how we see narratives with people of colour,” Davis said to a rapt crowd that included actors Mandy Moore, Lupita Nyong’o, and Yalitza Aparicio, and singers Awkwafina, Rita Wilson, and Kesha. “There is only so much I am going to cow tow to this business,” she said.
She added that she started JuVee Productions along with her husband Julius Tennon because she was tired of celebrating movies that didn’t have “me in it”.
“I don’t mean me Viola,” Davis said, adding, “I mean me as a black woman.”
She urged those in power in Hollywood to show more authentic black female characters. “My main message is ‘stop taming us,’ she said. “Everything that we are inside is what makes art in this world rich ... There is something to be said about being wild. Steve McQueen is wild. Barry Jenkins. Ryan Coogler .... These people who just dare. Who say, you cannot silence me.”
Even when there are black characters, she said, they’re reduced to being maternal, to being the saviour, to being denied sexuality, to being there to, “Make that white character feel better.”
“What is in my heart is I cannot lead with bulls***,” she said, adding, “I cannot lead with lying. I cannot lead with the lying about what the road is out there.”