Viola Davis’ career advice: ‘You have to exercise the power of No. Press reset’

Viola Davis’ career advice: ‘You have to exercise the power of No. Press reset’


Viola Davis is covering L’Officiel magazine, and the editorial really captures her. They dressed her in bright solid colors and in sequins with gorgeous styling. She looks like she’s going to an event to accept an award. Her interview is just as good as the photos. As we’ve seen from Viola for years, she has a way of explaining things that seems so insightful yet accessible, like “why didn’t I think of that?” Viola explains diversity not as a special case, but as matter-of-fact. We should be seeing more women of color in lead roles across the board, not just in prestige and historical films. She also talks about her career philosophy and approach, and I came away from this with a lot of good advice. Viola is getting Oscar buzz for Widows, which I haven’t seen yet but Kaiser saw it and loved it. I’m going to watch that and so many more movies over the holidays, I’m so excited for that.

On if she still loves acting
“I am in the season of being challenged by that question. I’m sort of trying to find a way to fall back in love with it again in the midst of the responsibility of the other stuff, in promoting movies, in contractual obligation for publicity. All the things that are not about my work. I think that you have to really exercise the power of No.”

On losing your passion and finding it again
“You’re gonna lose your passion. You’re gonna become disillusioned. But in the midst of it, you have to press the reset button, you do. And then you have to go back to something that challenges you. It doesn’t have to be in movies, because not everyone has the opportunity to just say, ‘Oh, give me a great role in a movie, so I can be challenged.’ It could be theater, it could be writing a book. It could be just taking a break and doing nothing. But to have the courage to extract yourself from the mess and the noise and to press the reset button is the only way to find your passion again and to find the love again. But I’m in the midst of that right now.”

On her production company and inclusion
“I feel like our production company is the poster child of what it means to be inclusive with narrative in this business. It is not just my hope for myself [to be cast in roles not specifically written for a black woman]; it’s my hope for every person of color, and I don’t just mean black—I mean Hispanic, I mean Asian. I mean for any person of color to be seen as not myopic. If we are committed to inclusion, then that same role that you’re thinking for Sandra Bullock, or for Nicole Kidman, or for Saoirse Ronan, or for Anne Hathaway, can be thought of for Michelle Yeoh, or for myself, or for Taraji P. Henson, or for Catalina Sandino Moreno. That is my hope for the business: I don’t always have to be in a Civil Rights movie. I don’t always have to make a statement. I don’t always have to save the world. Sometimes I just want to be a woman in a story.”

[From L’officiel]

I needed to hear her advice about being challenged, finding your passion and trying something different. It’s also important to know how and when you can step away from things that aren’t working, especially when you’re giving too much to other people and projects that aren’t moving you forward. Sometimes this type of advice can seem trite, but there’s a reason it’s common and that’s because it’s true. I also like the idea of pressing reset as a metaphor for making life changes. Hit reboot and move on like a boss.

Speaking of that, Viola has been cast to play Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), the first black woman elected to Congress.

— Viola Davis (@violadavis) December 1, 2018

— Viola Davis (@violadavis) December 1, 2018

The view from Saturday. Now that we’ve got your attention, make sure to read our interview with the incredible Viola Davis at the link in bio. * Photography: @daniellelevitt Styling: @elizabethstewart1 L’Officiel USA

All of us need to be of service to others. Each of us has different ways that we can do this. What are you doing to be of service to others? If you want to share pls do. Hopefully you will inspire others with the work you doing!

photos credit: L’Officiel and via Instagram, Twitter

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