Viola Davis Regrets Her Role In 'The Help,' Says Film Silenced Black Maids
Viola Davis recently opened up about some of her career regrets, and it includes one of her Oscar-nominated roles.
The How To Get Away With Murder recently shared at the Toronto Film Festival that her biggest regret was her role as Aibileen Clark in 2011’s Oscar-nominated The Help. The 2011 film, also starring Emma Stone, chronicles the story of African-American maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the 1950′s and 1960s.
“Have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted? I have, and The Help is on that list,” she told The New York Times. “Being that role model and picking up that baton when you’re struggling in your own life has been difficult but I choose to be the leader.”
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The movie, adapted from Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name, was criticized for over-crediting white women for the improvement of race relations in the flick. At the time of the movie’s release, the Association of Black Women Historians said the movie “distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of Black domestic workers.”
Davis agreed, saying: “I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard. I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom.”
“And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie,” she concluded.
This is not the first time that Davis has shared her doubts about that role. She admitted on The View in 2011 that she wasn’t too keen on taking on the film — because of the controversy, it would bring.
“Well, I knew that it had to be handled very carefully, and I knew that there would be a backlash,” she said at the time. “I knew there was going to be a backlash from the African-American community. It is a story set in 1962 about maids who are not educated, and I thought that people would look at that and they wouldn’t see the work.”
But she does admit, then and now, that the experience was great and it allowed her to meet some amazing people.
“The friendships that I formed are ones that I’m going to have for the rest of my life,” she told the Times. “I had a great experience with these other actresses, who are extraordinary human beings. And I could not ask for a better collaborator than [director] Tate Taylor.”
The Help, also starring Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, ended up raking in $169.6 million at the box office.