Viola Davis Graces ‘Essence’ Cover, Talks ‘The Help’

Viola Davis Graces 'Essence' Cover, Talks 'The Help'

It was a single, silent tear that dripped down her face in the reunion scene in Antwone Fisher that made me a forever fan of Viola Davis. She is the epitome of an actress who knows that subtlety trumps melodrama in conveying the human experience. Any movie that lists her in its credits I automatically plan to see, knowing she’s going to deliver a stellar performance. That is why I will go see The Help.

Honestly, I might have passed on seeing a film about black maids who need their white employers to save the day. Not having read the novel, I admit that is my uninformed impression of the movie’s plot based on the trailers I’ve seen. But, knowing Davis is in it and that her character is destined to metaphorically open a can of whoop a– on some pre-civil-rights era bigots will put me in a theater seat on opening weekend.

Davis says of her decision to portray an oppressed domestic in the Jim Crow South, “As black women, we’re always given these seemingly devastating experiences — experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as black women is take the worst situations and create from that point…”

Davis graces the August cover of Essence:

“Award-winning actress Viola Davis is having the time of her life as one of Hollywood’s hottest stars. Despite her evident radiance and mind-blowing talent, she has had to come to grips with a culture that seldom makes dark-skinned women feel like ‘the chosen ones.’ However, during her recent successes, including her Oscar-nominated performance in the film Doubt, she feels more like a ‘princess’ now than ever before.” (

kathleen cross

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