Viola Davis Graces Vanity Fair’s First Cover Shot by a Black Photographer

by Shine My Crown Staff
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Viola Davis has made history as her Vanity Fair cover was shot by a Black photographer — the first time in the magazine’s history.

Photographer Dario Calmese, whose photo of Davis aims to reimagine her as “as both the Black Madonna — associated with empowerment, transformation and change — as well as the Greek Goddess Athena — who represents justice, triumph and wisdom,” is featured on the cover of the magazine’s July/August issue.

In the cover story, Davis opened up about her journey to love and accept herself completely as a dark-skinned Black woman in America.

She says her sisters Deloris, Diane, and Anita and her mother, Mae Alice helped to instill confidence in her from an early age.

“[They] looked at me and said I was pretty,” she says. “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. Somewhere in my cellular memory was still that feeling—that I do not have the right to speak up about how I’m being treated, that somehow I deserve it.” Davis adds after a pause, “I did not find my worth on my own.”

Davis understands the power and the significance of the Variety cover.

“They’ve had a problem in the past with putting Black women on the covers,” Davis explains. “But that’s a lot of magazines, that’s a lot of beauty campaigns. There’s a real absence of dark-skinned Black women. When you couple that with what’s going on in our culture, and how they treat Black women, you have a double whammy. You are putting us in a complete cloak of invisibility.”

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