Viola Davis Shows Support for Hunger and Poverty Programs
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Variety

Viola Davis opened up about her childhood at Variety’s Power of Women event. 

Davis, 49, revealed that her support of the “Hunger Is” campaign comes from her days living in “abject poverty,” reports ABC.

“Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty,” she explained to the audience in tears. “I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn’t know where the next meal was coming from, and I did everything to get food. I have stolen for food. I have jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food. I have befriended people in the neighborhood, who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food, and I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame.”

The actress shared her story Friday as she was recognized for her humanitarian efforts. Davis says that her work with the hunger campaign was based on personal reasons. 

“I didn’t decide to join the Hunger Is campaign to save the world…I set out to save myself,” Davis said in her emotional speech. “It has been the joy of my life to be able to start this campaign…”

Other honorees at the event included Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, and Reese Witherspoon.