ESSENCE’s Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. Bush sat down with Viola Davis—whose new film Prisoners is out on September 20—to talk beauty, upcoming projects and her most important role to date: being a new mother.

The 48-year-old Oscar-nominated actress describes the feeling and vulnerability of parenthood as “five hundred million joys and a hundred million heartbreaks every single day.” She believes she inherited many things from her mother: some good, some bad. “My image of myself {as a youth] was in the mouths of young White kids calling me…ugly…and then going home to a mother who did not fully embrace her own beauty.”

Yet, Davis is determined to not pass that negativity down to her 2-year-old adopted daughter, Genesis, so her first priority is help her daughter embrace her hair. “There’s not one woman in America who does not care about her hair. But we give it way too much value. We deprive ourselves of things, we use it to destroy each other, we’ll look at a child and judge a mother and her sense of motherhood by the way the child’s hair looks. I am not going to traumatize my child about her hair. I want her to love her hair.”

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Watch the Viola Davis behind-the-cover shoot video now.

For our full interview with Viola Davis, in which she discusses the roles she plays—”Everybody talks about the kind of movies they want to see me in, and…I one hundred percent agree with them”— on embracing success, and how she met the love of her life, pick up the October issue of ESSENCE.