Viola Davis’ new film Widows — a story about a widow who’s indebted due to her husband’s criminal activities and finds herself needing to finish one of his missions to keep her life — premiered at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. While she was promoting her latest film, Davis spoke to The New York Times and shared that her role in the 2011 drama, The Help, was one she regrets doing.
During the interview, Davis was asked questions from The New York Times readers and one of them happened to be whether she regretted passing up a role.
"A better question is, have I ever done roles that I've regretted?" Davis responded. "I have, and The Help is on the list."
Davis shared with The New York Times that the relationships she built on set were ones that will last a lifetime. However, she felt that the movie wasn’t representative of 'the help.'
"I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn't the voices of the maids that were heard," she revealed. "I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They're my grandma. They're my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie."
The Help earned Davis an Oscar nomination as well as Octavia Spencer's award for Best Supporting Actress but the film also caused quite the controversy. According to Glamour, the Association of Black Women Historians issued a statement saying that "the film was the coming-of-age story of a white protagonist who uses myths about the lives of black women to make sense of her own."
Davis herself has criticized the film as well.
"The anger, the vitriol, and the hatred that (the maids) would have toward these white women if they were asked, if they were put in a situation where they were isolated, would have been vocalized. You didn't see none of that!" shared the actress at last year's BAFTA event.
"That's the issue I have with a lot of our stories," she clarified. "By the time… it makes it to the screen, the truth is so filtered down, and then it's given to you to make you feel very comfortable. It's not our job to make you feel comfortable — it really isn't. If you feel comfortable, then that is your journey, and your cross to bear. That is the beauty of art, the beauty of art is that we throw it to you, you receive it, and if you shift in some way, (then) we've done our job."
Through that uncomfortableness, change can happen. But we have to get there first. It is why we appreciate queens like Viola Davis and Serena Williams and the outspoken work that they do on a daily basis.
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