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Davis: Vanity’s got to go!

Published 12/08/2015

Viola Davis
Viola Davis

Viola Davis feels like actresses are bound to looking pretty at all times, even if the character doesn’t require it.

The Help star is currently holding audiences’ attention in hit television drama How to Get Away with Murder. One scene sees her character Annalise remove her wig and make up to show her true self, and Viola thinks it was a pivotal point in the programme.

“I always feel that no matter what, as actresses and as women, we always feel like we have to look pretty even at the expense of what is really going on with our character. I don’t think that there’s a trade-off there. I think that there’s no negotiation as part of that concern,” she explained to Variety. “I feel that whenever possible, vanity has got to be the first thing that goes. That’s why those moments are very, very important to me, just as an actor, just to keep my integrity, but also because I think it makes the audience lean in. I think it makes them see themselves.”

The 50-year-old throws herself into every role she secures. Her efforts on the show have been rewarded with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

“It means a lot because this is not a role I usually play. It’s not that I haven’t played anyone who has that kind of angst and is authoritative, but there are so many adjectives in there that are in Annalise that I haven’t played all of them together,” she continued. “I haven’t played someone who’s sexualised, messy, probably this layered. I’m honoured that someone nominated me for a role like this — it means I affected them in some way.

“That’s what you want to do as an actor. You want to transform and step outside of your comfort zone. I am definitely not comfortable in this role all the time.”

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