Viola Davis: Diversity in Hollywood 'Not Just a Hashtag'

The Takeaway

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Actress Viola Davis grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island by way of St. Matthews, South Carolina. She was born into a family with five siblings, and as a child, Davis says she often was just looking for a meal or a bar of soap. She has far exceeded those desires and achieved measures of success many of us couldn't even imagine.

Viola Davis is a star. She's won Tony Awards and has been nominated for an Oscar—twice. In 2015, she became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for lead actress in a drama series for her role as Annalise Keating on ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder." You may remember that she made the most of her acceptance speech that year.

"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," Davis told the audience.

In life there are few universal truths, except this one: Just because everything is going right for you, doesn't mean it's going right for everyone else in the world. That fact has pushed Davis into charity work with the The Vaseline Healing Project, which provides skin care and medical supplies to people living on the frontlines of poverty and disaster.

“We all want to be successful—that's the goal in life—and then you reach it and there is a disillusionment that comes," Davis tells The Takeaway. "There's not one celebrity that I know who does not have that. I think people would be surprised by the lack of fulfillment that it brings you. Because I think the last step that we forget is significance, and that's something thats much greater. That is, when I pass, what do I want to leave behind?”

What Viola Davis has already left in her wake is a will to push the Hollywood and the country to see the value in providing opportunity to women and minorities.