Viola Davis is unstoppable. Not only is she nominated, again, for an Academy Award, but the classically trained actress is finally getting her props within the industry.

Despite being an accomplished and talented actor, Davis has talked candidly about the difficulties black actresses face in the business. Unlike her white contemporaries who enjoy various roles from which they can virtually take their pick, Davis says she doesn’t have Hollywood beating down her door offering high-quality leading roles.

She explains, “There’s no ‘Sophie’s Choice’ script floating around there for me. If you look at what has been out there for the past few years, or even the last year, for women of color…this is basically it.” She continues, “I do not sit with 10 or 15 scripts in front of me, all leading roles…that just has not been my options.”

While it would be easy for Davis to blame the lack of roles for black women on racism and prejudice, she says that’s too simplistic of an answer. Interestingly enough, Viola Davis says she receives a large amount of roles from young, black writers, but there’s only one problem: they want her to play a crack addicted urban mother.

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In spite of the lack of well-written parts for black actresses, Davis is hopeful the success of The Help will show Hollywood that black actresses deserve a chance to shine. While I hope she is right, I won’t hold my breath.

What do you think? 


*Via Shadow & Act

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  • Natalie B.

    There was nothing wrong with Viola Davis playing a maid. It might be a stereotype, but keep in mind it was job done in an honorable and dignified way by honorable and dignified women that made chicken salad of chicken ish. Domestic work kept families fed, enabled children to go to college, and in doing so, was the basis of developing a black middle class. While the role is certainly reminiscent of an ugly era of our history, maybe that’s what we as a community need to see; that someone went through the back door, so we could enter through the front. I wish Viola Davis the best; she did a wonderful job in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, a role where she was an obviously successful, yet unhappy woman dealing with the demise of her marriage. Hopefully, more roles like that will come her way, but I for one will support any role she plays as long as it is one the exhibits depth of character and her vast talent.

    • MarloweOverShakespeare

      See I had NO idea Viola was in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close! The other roles she plays, though they may not be leads don’t get her the accolades or attention like the stereotypical/jim crow era roles.

    • sli

      Great points, I agree with you.

    • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

      Thank you Natalie. I think in our effort to condemn Hollywood, we end up condemning the many black women that were and are domestic workers. There is nothing shameful about being a domestic worker; it is shameful these women were not allowed to do other things. I have nothing but admiration for the many women that did what needed to be done and made the most of the unfortunate (to put it very mildly) situation they were forced into.

    • edub

      Agreed. But the logic block is from her own stance. She complains about stereotypical roles after getting much acclaim for a stereotypical role. I don’t see the distinction of maid and urban crack addicted female. Or at least, she does not make that distinction.

  • Ty

    There are have been a lot of Oscars given out to white actors and actresses that played a character that was stupid, or psychotic, or a low life, or had some crappy demeaning job. In fact, among actors, it’s considered a lot harder to play those parts than to play someone noble, that’s got everything all together and is on top of the world. I think people that down Viola Davis about her part as a maid just don’t know much about acting. Bad acting and bad writing is when you put a stereotype out there and there is no nuance and no shading. That’s not what M.s Davis did in The Help.