Earlier this week, Oscar and Emmy award-winning actress Viola Davis candidly shared that racism in Hollywood is an ongoing issue.
“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 about one of the many incidents with racial undertones that happen in modern-day Hollywood.
“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,” the award-winning actress continued.
As the conversation continued, Davis revealed that when she worked as the lead actress on the Shonda Rhimes–produced hit TV show “How to Get Away with Murder,” the series was one of the few that had a Black woman of a darker complexion in a prominent role.
Davis began, “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 added, “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.”
In an attempt to off-set some of the issues in the industry, the Fences actress and her husband Julius Tennon founded their production company, JuVee Productions. The company has given way to projects like the recent film The First Lady and Lila & Eve where Davis stars opposite Jennifer Lopez.
During the interview, the star mentioned that race has played a key role in projects that she’s been rejected for. Davis added that it frustrates her.
“A lot of it is based in race. It really is,” she said. “Let’s be honest. If I had my same features and I were five shades lighter, it would just be a little bit different. And if I had blonde hair, blue eyes and even a wide nose, it would be even a little bit different than what it is now. We could talk about colorism, we could talk about race. It pisses me off, and it has broken my heart — on a number of projects, which I won’t name.”