Viola Davis may be an Oscar Award-winning actress, but she’s often spoken candidly about some of the challenges she’s faced along her journey to the top.
During a Women in Motion discussion with Variety and Kering at the 75th Cannes Film Festival last week, she opened up about the time a director called her by his maid’s name.
“I had a director who did that to me. He said, ‘Louise!’ I knew him for 10 years and he called me Louise and I find out that it’s because his maid’s name is Louise,” Davis said. “I was maybe around 30 at the time, so it was a while ago. But what you have to realize is that those micro-aggressions happen all the time.”
Davis did not name the director in question.
Davis won awards for her leading role in Shonda Rhimes’ hit series, “How to Get Away With Murder.” With the success of the show, Davis says she expected Hollywood to open its doors and welcome other dark-skinned Black women to be offered more leading roles.
But alas, it did not happen. Hollywood continued its tried and true formula of boxing Black actresses into stereotypical roles—and meager paychecks compared to their white counterparts.
In 2015, Davis made history in 2015 after nabbing the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for her exceptional performance as Annalise Keating.
“I know that when I left How to Get Away with Murder that I don’t see a lot of dark skin women in lead roles on TV and not even in streaming services,” she said. “And that ties into ideology and ethos and mentality, and that’s speaking in the abstract. Why aren’t you hiring a dark skin woman when she walks in the room and you say she blows you away? Create space and storytelling for her so when she thrives she’s not thriving despite of her circumstance but thriving because of her circumstance.”