Viola Davis Says She ""Betrayed" Herself By Starring In The Help

Viola Davis thought the 2011 movie should have explored black characters in a deeper way.

Viola Davis feels like she "betrayed" herself with her role in The Help.

The 2011 civil rights movie became the most viewed film on Netflix last month amid the Black Lives Matter movement, but the actress — who played maid Aibileen Clark — insisted the film should have explored black characters in a deeper way.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, she said The Help was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism.”

“Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity,” Davis said. “They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but… it’s catering to the white audience. The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were.

"There's no one who's not entertained by The Help. But there's a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn't ready to [tell the whole truth]."

When asked why Davis agreed to work on The Help, she said she "was that journeyman actor, trying to get in and "there's not enough opportunities out thereto bring that unknown, faceless Black actress to the ranks of the known. To pop her!" 

This isn't the first time Davis has publicly admitted about regretting starring in The Help, which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination (Meryl Streep won for The Iron Lady). She previously slammed the movie in a 2018 New York Times interview. " I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard," she said then. "I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mum. 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."

The Help received criticism upon its release as the story focused on the perspective of a white character. It was also directed by a white man, Tate Taylor, and adapted from a story by a white author, Kathryn Stockett. It was nominated for four Oscars, and won Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer. 

Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays racist socialite Hilly in the flick, previously suggested audiences should turn to other movie if they want to be educated on racism.

Writing on her Facebook page, Howard said: "I'm so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from that film ... This being said, The Help is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further."— BANG

Photo: TPG News/Click Photos

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