Belfast Telegraph

Friday 6 March 2015

Viola Davis: Adversity builds character

Viola Davis
Viola Davis

Viola Davis used to be "spit on" in her youth.

The 46-year-old Academy Award-nominated actress grew up in a very segregated community.

Being the only African-American in a small racially divided town in Rhode Island was extremely challenging for Viola.

"I have stories of being spit on," Viola told ET Online. "You have to realise I was in a predominantly white culture... And third grade was the worst because every day after school I would wait at the door and the bell would ring. And as soon as the bell rang I ran as fast as I could from the front door to my house, which was at least a mile away, because I would have eight to nine boys with sticks, bricks, anything they could find, who were ready to kill me."

After being tormented for quite a while, Viola finally found the courage to speak up about her plight. Viola's brave mother urged her to stand up to these schoolyard bullies.

"I finally told my mother," Viola recalled. "She said, 'Viola, I want you to take my crochet and needle and you put it in your pocket and if they stop you again you tell them you're gonna [stab] 'em.' "

Although tragic, Viola is happy with the way these painful experiences have helped her grow.

"Having it hard made me build so much character," she explained. "You have to actually say, 'Is the world going to define me or am I going to define myself.' "

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