She’s an Oscar nominee…why should she be relegated to “Woman #3” roles?
Viola Davis Speaks On Big Screen Opportunities For Black Actresses
The dire straits for Black actors in Hollywood are well documented. Even though it’s a source of greater opportunity for actors from across the pond, meaty roles aren’t exactly plentiful for Black stars. For this reason, you have Oscar winners and nominees like Viola Davis turning to the small screen to get the well-written, leading lady roles they’re deserving of. Via Washington Post:
Viola Davis’s comments about why she was returning to television as the lead in “How to Get Away With Murder,” a new ABC series, were a sharp shot at what the movies have to offer even the best, most beloved African American actresses.
“I have gotten so many wonderful film roles, but I’ve gotten even more film roles where I haven’t been the show,” Viola Davis said at the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles. “It’s like I’ve been invited to a really fabulous party only to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show.”
It was a striking admission from an actress who has been twice nominated for Academy Awards: for “Doubt,” where she played a mother whose son may be the object of clergy sexual abuse, and “The Help,” in which she was a domestic worker who finds her voice as a writer. Davis has two Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards for her stage performances.
But despite these accomplishments, she said she wanted more out of the characters she was given.
“I spent too much time in my career just trying to force writers to write for me in a way that was bold,” she told critics.
Davis thanked Pete Norwalk, the creator of “How to Get Away With Murder,” for giving her a role that allowed her to be alternately commanding, personally messy and sexual. As a law professor whose ruthless attitude (and catchy course title) have perhaps too much of an influence on her students, Davis gets to chew scenery in flashy classroom sequences, display her professional acumen in the courtroom and balance a husband and a lover.
Davis has been blunt before about her career prospects, even at times when she might appear to be at the top of her game. “I’m a 46-year-old black woman who really doesn’t look like Halle Berry, and Halle Berry is having a hard time,” Davis mused in a roundtable of Oscar-nominated actresses from 2012, when she was in contention for “The Help.”
Hey, even Halle Berry is on television these days! At least Black actresses have SOME venue to get worthy roles…but why is Hollywood so reluctant to put them in the good roles on the big screen?