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Viola Davis: The Help was created in the cesspool of systemic racism

The actress has previously said she regrets taking her role in the film.

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Viola Davis (Ian West/PA)

Viola Davis (Ian West/PA)

Viola Davis (Ian West/PA)

Viola Davis has said there is a part of her that feels she betrayed herself by starring in The Help and added that the film was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism”.

The actress earned an Oscar nomination for her starring role of Aibileen Clark in Tate Taylor’s 2011 drama chronicling a group of black maids working and living in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s.

However, she has since spoken of her regret at taking the part, telling the New York Times in 2018 that it focused more on white voices than black ones.

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Presenting our July/August cover star: @ViolaDavis. Last month, the Oscar winner took to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd—but she’s no stranger to fighting for what’s right. As a Black woman in Hollywood, she’s spent her career doing it: “My entire life has been a protest,” Davis says. “My production company is my protest. Me not wearing a wig at the Oscars in 2012 was my protest. It is a part of my voice, just like introducing myself to you and saying, ‘Hello, my name is Viola Davis.’” Davis was photographed by @dario.studio—the first Black photographer to shoot a Vanity Fair cover. At the link in bio, Davis speaks with V.F. about her extraordinary journey out of poverty and into the stubbornly unequal Hollywood system. Story by @soniasaraiya Photographed by @dario.studio Styled by @elizabethstewart1 Coatdress @maxmara Earrings @pomellato

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In a new interview with Vanity Fair, she said: “Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity.

“They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be black, but it’s catering to the white audience. The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are.

“Then they leave the movie theatre and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were.”

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In 2015, @violadavis became the first Black woman ever to win an Emmy for lead actress in a drama for ‘How to Get Away With Murder.’ In 2017, she won an Oscar for her supporting role as Rose Maxson in ‘Fences’—a part for which she also collected a Tony. Today, she is using her own production company to give young Black actors a platform—in every stage of their careers. “There’s not enough opportunities out there to bring that unknown, faceless Black actress to the ranks of the known. To pop her!” Davis tells V.F., naming other performers—Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon, Kristen Stewart—all “fabulous white actresses,” who have had “a wonderful role for each stage of their lives, that brought them to the stage they are now. We can’t say that for many actors of color.” Read our July/August cover story at the link in bio. Story by @soniasaraiya Photographed by @dario.studio Styled by @elizabethstewart1 Gown: @giorgioarmani Earrings: @mounserstudio Cuff: @gilesandbrother

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She added: “There’s no-one who’s not entertained by The Help. But there’s a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn’t ready to (tell the whole truth).

She added that the film was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism”.

Davis also said there are still not enough opportunities for black actresses in Hollywood and is worried about younger performers who are not getting chances.

She said: “There’s not enough opportunities out there to bring that unknown, faceless black actress to the ranks of the known. To pop her!”

Naming Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon and Kristen Stewart as “fabulous white actresses”, she said they have “a wonderful role for each stage of their lives, that brought them to the stage they are now. We can’t say that for many actors of colour”.

PA