Actress Viola Davis participated in a press conference this Tuesday (19) at Copacabana Palace to promote the film “A Mulher Rei”, starring her and which will be released in Brazil on Thursday (22).
In the film, Viola plays Nanisca, the leader of an all-female royal guard in the reign of Dahomey (present-day Benin) in 19th-century West Africa. The film debuted at number one at the US box office.
During the interview, the actress said that she agreed to make this film so that black women could recognize themselves on the big screen. For Viola, cinema has great films, great directors, but women cannot see themselves in the cinema, as if they were invisible and worthless.
Viola Davis and Julius Tennon during a press conference at Copacabana Palace, in Rio — Photo: Célio Silva
However, in “The King Woman”, they have their importance and the film shows that they don’t need men to be successful. “Once they’re in focus, you sit with these black women for two hours and six minutes. [a duração total do filme] and you become interested in their lives. And that means everything to us,” Viola said.
Viola said that she also doesn’t see “The King Woman” as an action film, because she thinks that label would diminish the film, but rather as a historical drama with action. She recalled the arduous preparation she went through for the character, where she had to learn the dialect spoken in Dahomey, in addition to five hours of intense workout, which included weightlifting and martial arts.
Another aspect that Viola Davis highlighted is the fact that she wants black women to be humanized in the films, with the same capabilities as other people. For the Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner, this would be the first step in eradicating racism, as we are committed to diversity and inclusion. ”
We are not a device, a metaphor. There’s no way we can make people tough if there are no narratives that show it. And that this is important,” said Viola.
Viola Davis with her husband, Julius Tennon, who is also the producer of “A Mulher Rei” — Photo: Célio Silva
question of opportunities
Julius Tennon, Viola’s husband and producer of the film, also participated in the press conference. He spoke of the difficulties of making the feature and that it took seven years for it to be ready. For Tennon, Afro-descendant actors and directors still have few opportunities in Hollywood.
“It is always difficult and it is never easy. But you have to have a vision of what you want to see. (…) We see ourselves as a company that is trying to give a chance to people who have talent and skills and who only need an opportunity.”
Viola agreed with her husband and recalled that actresses such as Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Helen Mirren had their opportunities to show their values and talents, while other black actresses were given smaller roles, usually as the protagonists’ best friends.
And that’s why the couple gives black artists a chance to shine. “It’s no longer acceptable for people not to see us anymore. I have my value like everyone else,” she said.
Viola Davis plays Nanisca, the leader of a female royal guard in “The King Woman” – Photo: Disclosure
At the end of the press conference, the couple were asked if “The King Woman” could be the first film in a series of features starring women as heroines. Julius Tennon said that initially he needs to make a lot of money. “When movies like this make money, then we’ll see a proliferation of these stories being told,” said the producer.
As for Viola, the last question should have been asked to the public, as only they can make these films successful if they buy the tickets. For her, actresses like Scarlett Johansson, Brie Larson, Angelina Jolie and others would not be seen if their films did not do well at the box office. The same needs to happen with “The King Woman”.
“People have to see it to believe it. And I think that’s what happens with ‘The King Woman.’ People who watch it are touched by it and when you’re touched by something, there’s no going back. That’s what I believe in and what I hope for. “, concluded the actress.
Viola Davis talks about being a black woman with dark skin: ‘People don’t even realize that certain things they say are very offensive’