The Queen is here.
Viola Davis is covering Vanity Fair’s July/August issue in stunning fashion for a landmark issue. The Oscar-winning actress was shot by Dario Calmese, the first black photographer to shoot a cover for the mag in its 107-year history.
Calmese himself said the soul-stirring cover was an intentional protest and a replication of the “The Scourged Back”, a chilling 1863 portrait of an enslaved man whose back is covered with whipping scars.
“I did know that this was a moment to say something,” Calmese said to The New York Times about his Viola Davis Vanity Fair cover. “I knew this was a moment to be, like, extra Black.”
“When you look at it, it is gruesome and harsh,” he said. But Mr. Calmese also saw in it elements that could inform his upcoming portrait: “He pushes back more toward the camera,” he told The Times. His hand is at his waist — you know that line, with his profile going down the arm and coming back. And so I was like: I can recreate this.”
Calmese noted that he didn’t intend the re-creation to be the cover image and thought the cover should have more “brightness and vibrancy” since it’s a summer issue. Still, this photo was chosen and we can see why; it’s INCREDIBLE.
In Viola’s Vanity Fair cover story she too spoke on protests, noting her that her life is just that. She also noted that she, her husband Julius Tennon, fellow actor Yvette Nicole Brown and others protested racism and brutality in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles, California much to the chagrin of some people who gave them the finger.
b“I feel like my entire life has been a protest,” said Viola. “My production company is my protest. Me not wearing a wig at the Oscars in 2012 was my protest. It is a part of my voice, just like introducing myself to you and saying, ‘Hello, my name is Viola Davis,'” she told Sonia Saraiya.
Additionally, she also once again expressed regret over starring in “The Help” which she says was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism” that was “catering to the white audience.”
“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],” said Viola.
“Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity. They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but… it’s catering to the white audience,” she adds. “The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were.”
Points. Were. Made.
This opulent representation of a not just a black actress but a clearly gifted black photog is welllllllll overdue.
Hire black photographers and pay them, pay them WELL.
Viola’s VF issue hits newsstands July 21—will YOU be buying?
You can check out Viola’s Vanity Fair cover story in its entirety here.