Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award winner Viola Davis is Vanity Fair's July/August cover star and is the first to be shot by a black photographer in Dario Calmese.


The multi-talented star sits down with Vanity Fair's Sonia Saraiya to discuss family, protests, theater, and more.

Following the killing of George Floyd, Davis felt a desire to protest in order to make a difference, yet did not want to put vulnerable family members at risk. This caused her and Octavia Spencer to organize a neighborhood demonstration of those mindful of her health. About the protest, Davis shares:

"We said we'd just be out there for a few minutes, and it ended up being hours, hours. Almost like a big dam bursting open...We got a few [middle] fingers. But this was the first time the fingers did not bother me."

Davis has been outspoken about the struggles about being a women of color in Hollywood for years, explaining her enthusiastic involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement.

She discusses the challenged of growing up poor in Rhode Island and how her mother and her sisters acted as her support system, saying:

"[They] looked at me and said I was pretty. Who's telling a dark-skinned girl that she's pretty? Nobody says it. I'm telling you, Sonia, nobody says it. The dark-skinned Black woman's voice is so steeped in slavery and our history. If we did speak up, it would cost us our lives.

Since then, Davis has made a name for herself in Hollywood, winning multiple awards on screen and on stage. She earned an Oscar nomination in 2008 for Doubt also starring Meryl Streep. About working with Streep, Davis says:

"What do you call someone who shares your belief system? She's in my tribe, Meryl is."

Now as a highly decorated actress, Davis hopes to be a voice for the next generation of black female actresses looking to get their start in Hollywood. About this, she says:

"There's not enough opportunities out there to bring that unknown, faceless Black actress to the ranks of the known. To pop her!"

In this interview, Davis looks back at The Help in which she portrayed maid Aibileen. She speaks about how that movie while expanding her career also propagated systemic racism, noting:

"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] The Help, like so many other movies, was "created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism."

Looking ahead, Davis is set to play Michelle Obama in Showtimes's White House drama, First Ladies, but currently in the wake of social distancing, the actress decides to slow down a bit.

"I don't put any limits on myself. But I feel the disillusionment of being busy…. My work is not all of me. I used to say when I was younger, Acting is not what I do, it's who I am. I look back at myself like, what the hell were you talking about?"

You can read the entire interview here!

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