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Viola Davis on Playing a Maid in 'The Help'

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ESSENCE August cover girl Viola Davis has been many things on screen, but it's her next role that has everybody talking. The Oscar-nominated actress plays a maid named Aibileen Clark in the buzzed about film, “The Help.”

It’s a role she had to think about long and hard before accepting. “Of course I had trepidations,” she tells ESSENCE.

“Why do I have to play the mammy? But what do you do as an actor if one of the most multi-faceted and rich roles you’ve ever been given is a maid in 1962 Mississippi? Do you not take the role because you feel in some ways it’s not a good message to send to Black people?”

Davis says she understands where critics are coming from, but it’s the quality of the film that matters. “That message is greater,” she adds.

What do you think? Will you see “The Help”?

Watch this exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at Viola's cover shoot:

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