Viola Davis: I’m a sexual woman
Viola Davis thinks she was the “prototype of the ‘mommified’ role”.
The two-time Academy Award nominee stars in the ABC series as criminal defense attorney Annalise Keating. The role has required her to be more risqué than she has been in her previous work, which Viola found terrifying at first.
“There was absolutely no precedent for it. I had never seen a 49-year-old, dark-skinned woman who is not a size two be a sexualised role in TV or film,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “I'm a sexual woman, but nothing in my career has ever identified me as a sexualised woman. I was the prototype of the ‘mommified’ role. When I saw myself for the first time in the pilot episode, I was mortified.”
While the show deals with murder and crime, it also explores the character’s private lives. And while Viola found it a challenge to leave behind the downtrodden types of women she has played in the past, she was pleased with the results in the end.
“I saw the fake eyelashes and, ‘Are you kidding me? Who is going to believe this?’”, she recalled. “And then I thought: ‘OK, this is your moment to not typecast yourself, to play a woman who is sexualised and do your investigative work to find out who this woman is and put a real woman on TV who's smack-dab in the midst of this pop fiction.’”
However Viola has had to contend with people questioning her looks and figure in the role. She revealed that people have criticised the way she walks in heels and that the show’s producers should have cast someone smaller like Halle Berry.
“But what I say to that is the women in my life who are sexualised are anywhere from a size zero to a size 24. They don't walk like supermodels in heels,” she added. “They take their wig and makeup off at night. So this role was my way of saying, ‘Welcome to womanhood!’ It's also healed me and shown a lot of little dark-skinned girls with curly hair a physical manifestation of themselves.”
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