Viola Davis: Feminism

Viola-davis-how-to-get-away-with-murderViola Davis is a two-time Oscar nominee who is passionate about the voice and representation of coloured women, her medium is film and television. A recent interview with Australian WHO magazine, made it clear that Davis is a feminist, she is passionate about the role, voice and representation of women in general; society, in film, in the workplace – and she makes this the driving force behind her portrayal of Annalise Keating, in her lead role of Chanel 7’s new How To Get Away With Murder. Through her role as high-flying lawyer and lecturer, Davis is setting the bar high for the representation of all women in film and television. She is the boss. She does not ask for permission, or approval. She is vulnerable, and makes mistakes. She cries, and yells and is not ashamed or embarrassed by her human factor. We can rule out any dreams of a fairytale ending – she’s just not that kind of girl. In her portrayal of Annalise, Davis is challenging the all too accepted portrayal of women as willowy and fragile, and at the end of the day seeking a man for comfort and support. Davis suggested that in courtroom scenes, Annalise wear clothes to accentuate her muscular build, she does not fall back on appealing to audiences with sexuality or prettiness. She is having a breakdown and sticking to her resolve. She is unwavering. She follows her intuition, and when she doesn’t, she gets on with it. This is an iconc woman in the making, this is a woman we will look back on and say she was standing up for what is real.She is showing us what the modern woman looks like.

Excerpt from Viola Davis’ interview with Times Magazine. View the full article

“This fall, Davis, who is 49, is finally getting her shot at the anti-mammy. As the star of “How to Get Away With Murder,” a new series on ABC, Davis plays Annalise Keating, a flinty, stylish defense lawyer and law professor who employs her top students to help her win cases. After those students become entangled in a murder plot on their Ivy League campus, viewers will wonder whether Keating herself was involved in the crime. Davis plays Keating as cerebral and alluring, a fierce taskmaster who uses her sex appeal to her advantage, with a handsome husband and a lover on the side. It’s the kind of woman, in other words, that she has never gotten to play.

Davis and her ensemble cast are completing 15 episodes in five months, or a new episode about every 10 days. Our first meeting took place at 9 a.m. on a Sunday, one of her rare days off. As her 4-year-old daughter, Genesis, played in the kitchen nearby, Davis talked about Keating’s nuances and dynamism. After years of stock characters, she was thrilled to play a real protagonist, a fully developed, conflicted, somewhat mysterious woman. “It’s what I’ve had my eye on for so long,” she said. “It’s time for people to see us, people of color, for what we really are: complicated.”

Annalise Keating may be the most stereotypically beautiful woman Davis has been tapped to play, but soon after accepting the role, she began lobbying to highlight the character’s vulnerabilities. “She’s pushed me on this,” said Nowalk, the series creator. “She’s big on the fact that we all wear masks in public, depending on what’s necessary. She wanted to show Annalise in private moments, when no one else was around.” Davis told me that she wanted Keating “to be messy,” multifaceted and complicated. “Vanity destroys your work,” she said. “That’s the one thing you have to let go of as an actor. I don’t care how sexy or beautiful any woman is. At the end of the day, she has to take her makeup off. At the end of the day, she’s more than just pretty.”

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