Viola Davis reveals childhood of extreme poverty – 07/16/2022

“You ugly black girl. You’re ugly as hell…. Go fuck yourself…”, screamed with hatred the boys who were chasing little Viola Davis at school, at age 8, while throwing stones, bricks and what they found around the school. front. The girl, with her shoes punctured, darted home like a sprinter. Who today sees the actress Viola Davis as the powerful African queen in The Woman King, a film that opens on September 16th in foreign cinemas and on the 22nd in Brazil, cannot imagine the past of this successful actress in her hometown, Central Falls, in icy state of Rhode Island.

Winner of an Oscar, an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards and four SAGs, one of the most awarded black actresses in Hollywood, a graduate of the Julliard School – the most prestigious university of the arts in the United States -, at the height of her fame, decided to expose the vulnerabilities of a life marked by human miseries, such as racism, extreme poverty and domestic violence, in his autobiography Em Busca de Mim, which has just been released in Brazil and has already become the best-selling non-fiction book by the Record group at the Bienal de São Paulo.

As Viola herself tells in a blunt interview with presenter Oprah Winfrey in the Netflix documentary Oprah and Viola: A Special Event, the memoir was written during the pandemic, in a moment of isolation. Viola, twice named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, wrote her story to heal her wounds and free the girl who was cursed in childhood.

Violence wasn’t just at school. Many times, Viola protected her mother, Alice Davis, from the violent abuse of her father, Dan Davis, especially when he was intoxicated. In the book, the actress narrates the moment when, with her sister Danielle in her arms, she faced her father screaming after he injured her mother with a piece of glass.


Among the actress’s strongest memories is that of the rat infestation in the apartment, where there was no heating and, sometimes, water and electricity were cut due to non-payment. “In fact, mice were such a serious problem that they ate my dolls’ faces. I never, ever went into the kitchen,” writes Viola.

There is also an explicit speech about the shame that haunted her in childhood and adolescence for having wet her bed until she was 14 years old, leaving a strong odor of urine on her clothes and in the house, because there was no money to buy soap. In this passage, she says that there are always some “angels” in life who appear to help us. In this case, she mentions the school teacher, who in addition to providing clothes and food for her and her sisters, also taught her about hygiene and self-care.

If it is possible to speak of rescuing Viola Davis from a perverse reality, she gave herself to art. “The moment I did the first skit, at age 9, I realized this had the ability to heal me,” she told host Oprah. The characters, as she recounts in her autobiography, gave her the chance to exorcise her demons.

It is possible to expound on several brilliant scenes from her career, with Viola playing Ma Rainey in The Ultimate Voice of the Blues. The actress tells a remarkable scene, when opposite Denzel Washington in A Limit Between Us, in which when crying she let her nose run on purpose, giving greater veracity to the drama. “The Boundaries Between Us were real to me, they were my life,” she writes.


Viola has made and remade herself many times, as she confesses in the book. She married Julius and adopted the girl Genesis. At the end of the biography, and here’s a spoiler, it translates: “The imperfect but blessed sculpture that is Viola is still developing and being polished. My elixir? I’m not ashamed of myself anymore.” With her writing, Viola presents us with her strength and courage.


in search of me

Viola Davis

Trans.: Karine Ribeiro


266 pages, BRL 49.90 BRL 29.90 the e-book

The information is from the newspaper. The State of São Paulo.

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