Top 120 Viola Davis Quotes

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“The only picture I have of my childhood is the picture of me in kindergarten. I have this expression on my face – it’s not a smile, it’s not a frown. I swear to you, that’s the girl who wakes up in the morning and who looks around her house and her life saying, ‘I cannot believe how God has blessed me.’”

― Viola Davis

“There’s no prerequisites to worthiness. You’re born worthy, and I think that’s a message a lot of women need to hear.”

― Viola Davis

“The predator wants your silence. It feeds their power, entitlement, and they want it to feed your shame.”

― Viola Davis

“I would like to say that I’m a walking poster board for feminism and women’s liberation, but there are things that I do in my life that deeply, deeply fall short of being a statement for being a strong woman. I am flawed as much as anyone else.”

― Viola Davis

“Your internal dialogue has got to be different from what you say. And, you know, in film, hopefully that registers and speaks volumes. It’s always the unspoken word and what’s happening behind someone’s eyes that makes it so rich.”

― Viola Davis

“We have to stop thinking about diversity and start thinking about inclusion. That’s what you can take from August Wilson. That there are whole cultures out there living experiences exactly like yours, and their stories can be just as dynamic, sold in the foreign market, put as many butts in the seats as any Caucasian movie out there.”

― Viola Davis

“I always talk to all the crew. I always make it pleasant. I always nurture a relationship that makes people feel like they’re important, like they’re a part of the collaboration. I feel that way about the young actors on set. I don’t talk to them like I’m the mentor; I talk to them like they’re my peers. And I learned that from Meryl Streep.”

― Viola Davis

“There’s got to be a voice deep within you that is untouched by definitions. And it is there that you become divinely who you are.”

― Viola Davis

“Self-deprecation is not the answer to humility.”

― Viola Davis

“What do you want? What do you want your life to be? What do you want your testimony to be? Go for it!”

― Viola Davis

“I think I’ve lived long enough to understand that plans really are very overrated.”

― Viola Davis

“I know that love is real when it’s not convenient, when it’s not selfish, when it’s challenged, sometimes even if it’s not reciprocated.”

― Viola Davis

“I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

― Viola Davis

“Your ability to adapt to failure, and navigate your way out of it, absolutely 100 percent makes you who you are.”

― Viola Davis

“I definitely have a happy marriage and family life.”

― Viola Davis

“Sometimes you see how humanity can rise above any kind of cultural ills and hate that a person’s capacity to love and communicate and forgive can be bigger than anything else.”

― Viola Davis

“I suffered from low self-esteem for much of my life. And now to feel like maybe something that I’m projecting or saying could mean something to someone means a lot to me.”

― Viola Davis

“People who are alone all the time never grow. Those hermits just stay the same. It’s only through relationships. Relationships change us and make us grow.”

― Viola Davis

“Vanity destroys your work. That’s the one thing you have to let go of as an actor. I don’t care how sexy or beautiful any woman is. At the end of the day, she has to take her makeup off. At the end of the day, she’s more than just pretty.”

― Viola Davis

“You have to have an unlimited imagination, an unlimited restraint on your inhibition when you’re working. You have to even dare to fail, even in a scene, whatever it is.”

― Viola Davis

“Because I grew up in such tight spaces, I don’t get manicures, pedicures. I’m not into cars, but I am into a fabulous house. I wanted the spiral staircase, clean sheets on the bed, to be able to take a shower.”

― Viola Davis

“Tyler Perry’s ‘Madea Goes to Jail!’ Which, I have to tell you, of everything that I’ve ever done in my career, that’s the only thing that’s perked up the ears of my nieces and nephews. That is it, that’s done it for them. That made me a bona fide star in their eyes!”

― Viola Davis

“We all have different narratives; all of our narratives are at different stages of development.”

― Viola Davis

“The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity.”

― Viola Davis

“The big ‘Aha!’ moment is that the trauma never goes away.”

― Viola Davis

“You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

― Viola Davis

“Acting is not rocket science, but it is an art form. What you are doing is illuminating humanity. Or not.”

― Viola Davis

“I tell my daughter every morning, ‘Now, what are the two most important parts of you?’ And she says, ‘My head and my heart.’ Because that’s what I’ve learned in the foxhole: What gets you through life is strength of character and strength of spirit and love.”

― Viola Davis

“What excites me is just taking some time to breathe in life. The mundane is very exciting.”

― Viola Davis

“So many women characters are extensions of male fantasy.”

― Viola Davis

“I heard about the book and I said, ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to read this book,’ and I didn’t know that a white woman wrote it. Nobody said that to me, they just said, ‘The Help – Oh my god, you’ve got to read it.’ Everyone failed to mention it was a white woman, I think, because nobody really wants to talk about race.”

― Viola Davis

“And this is what was fascinating to me about ‘The Help’; they were ordinary people who did extraordinary things.”

― Viola Davis

“Can I just tell you, I think it’s the most beautiful thing about young people today, it gives me so much hope for the future, that they don’t really recognize race the way my generation does.”

― Viola Davis

“Well, first of all, you read the script a million times. Because what the script gives you are given circumstances. Given circumstances are all the facts of your character.”

― Viola Davis

“When you’re working as an actor, you don’t think that when you get out of school, it’s going to be so hard to get a job. Just to get a job. Any job. Whatsoever. You don’t think that people are going to see you in a certain way.”

― Viola Davis

“I didn’t see myself any different from my white counterparts in school. I just didn’t! I thought I could do what they did. And what I didn’t do well, I thought people were going to give me the opportunity to do well, because maybe they saw my talent, so they would give me a chance. I had no idea that they would see me completely different.”

― Viola Davis

“I’ve been online doing all kinds of research and that seems to be the constant criticism, that Aibileen’s accent was just too thick. And for me, I don’t want anything to distract from the character.”

― Viola Davis

“I do believe that there are African Americans who have thick accents. My mom has a thick accent; my relatives have thick accents. But sometimes you have to adjust when you go into the world of film, TV, theatre, in order to make it accessible to people.”

― Viola Davis

“I love Wal-Mart. You can put that down. I love Wal-Mart. My husband and I hang out there.”

― Viola Davis

“In life, you know, they do this in focus groups; if you were in such and such circumstance, what would you do? Well, you never know what you’re going do unless you’re faced with it.”

― Viola Davis

“I worked in television; I’m the Failed Pilot Queen, I’ve done so many television shows, pilots, theater … when you do it for so long, I’m telling you, you get to the point where it becomes varied because you take what’s available for a number of reasons. It’s just an occupational hazard.”

― Viola Davis

“Sometimes you take a job for the money, sometimes you take it for the location, sometimes you take it for the script; there are just a number of reasons, and ultimately what you see is the whole landscape of it. But I can tell you from behind the scenes – that’s what it is, as an actor.”

― Viola Davis

“I think that’s something that people feel that I do really well; I don’t mind it, because ultimately I think the characters I play move people, and who wouldn’t want to move people?”

― Viola Davis

“That’s why I do what I do, and that’s why I wanted to be an actress from the time I was six years old. If I can’t effectively move people, then I would prefer not to do it.”

― Viola Davis

“And that’s what people want to see when they go to the theater. I believe at the end of the day, they want to see themselves – parts of their lives they can recognize. And I feel if I can achieve that, it’s pretty spectacular.”

― Viola Davis

“I can’t deal with actors! I can’t deal with myself. We’re neurotic and miserable … I love doing what I’m doing, but while I’m doing it, I’m miserable.”

― Viola Davis

“We grew up in abject poverty. Acting, writing scripts and skits were a way of escaping our environment at a very young age.”

― Viola Davis

“To the predators… Weinstein, the stranger, the relative, the boyfriend… I say to you, ‘You can choose your sin but you don’t get to choose the consequences.’ To the victims… I see you. I believe you… and I’m listening.”

― Viola Davis

“I feel that confidence in women – especially young girls of color – but women, in general, is so important. It is so important for us to arm ourselves and become powerful at a very young age.”

― Viola Davis

“If I have to be at work at five A.M., I will get up at three and work out. I run. I do weights. I’m very toned. I’m like every other woman. I’d love to be 10 pounds or 20 pounds lighter. If I’m not, I’m OK with that, too. I’m good as long as I’m healthy.”

― Viola Davis

“I have been down and out, living in Brooklyn, no money even for a subway, no food whatsoever. Like, I remember just sitting in my room all day – even my television wasn’t working!”

― Viola Davis

“I played several maids in my career. I was tired of the maid after ‘Far From Heaven.’ I said, no more maids. Until I realized how difficult it was to get a role other than a maid, sometimes, in Hollywood, and sometimes you have to choose your battles, for lack of a better term.”

― Viola Davis

“I think many women are successful in their professional lives – they are making the money and all that – but in their personal lives are a complete mess, because they haven’t paid any attention to it, because they spent all of their time being successful.”

― Viola Davis

“The reason I became an actress is because I wanted my acting to reflect life as it is. I want to put truth on the screen. I want real women to see real women on the screen.”

― Viola Davis

“I would love to do really great work and for women who are marginalised to see me as an inspiration.”

― Viola Davis

“I feel at home in Shondaland. I feel a lot of things at Shondaland, but one of the things I feel that I haven’t felt before is at home. I feel accepted for who I am and acknowledged for who I am. I feel like my ideas are embraced.”

― Viola Davis

“I’ve always felt like I was an actor for hire. And almost apologetic for being a woman of color, trying to stifle that voice. But I don’t feel that way in Shondaland. I feel like I am accepted into a world where I’m a part of the narrative – I’m a part of it.”

― Viola Davis

“I always feel terrified whenever I put my work out there to be seen, to be scrutinized. I think it’s a very vulnerable thing that we are asked to do.”

― Viola Davis

“If it were just a dream to be famous, then I probably would have died a really quick death, because there is nothing about me that equals fame. I’m not a standup comedian. I don’t sing.”

― Viola Davis

“I didn’t aspire to be just a celebrity; I aspired to be an actress… I always wanted to be respected as someone who knew their craft.”

― Viola Davis

“I don’t know how I got a great husband. I mean, God just blessed me with that one. Because – trust me – before him, I was not making good choices. So I was just absolutely blessed. I just prayed for that man He’s my secret weapon because he’s so gregarious, and he’s so filled with joy. Me? I can sometimes be more cynical, and I’m very shy.”

― Viola Davis

“You can’t be perceived as ‘the black actress who doesn’t get the same kind of roles as the white actress.’ You gotta run the same race. You gotta give the same quality of performances. You gotta have the same standard of excellence, even though people know that you’re coming to the race in a deficit. That’s just what life is about.”

― Viola Davis

“When a character has so many secrets and so much inner life, it’s a joy to play those characters because you can use your craft.”

― Viola Davis

“I don’t care if someone is new to acting or experienced in acting: you always learn something from them. It’s just like people in life – whether they’re young or middle-aged or old, you always learn something from someone.”

― Viola Davis

“Every job I’ve ever gotten has transformed me in some way as an actor.”

― Viola Davis

“Egos are an occupational hazard in acting, but I don’t have much of one, and my husband doesn’t have much of one, so it’s good.”

― Viola Davis

“I live a fantastic life. Why should I complain about awards?”

― Viola Davis

“He is a regular guy who absolutely is not attracted to his own celebrity. He’s a jokester, a little rough around the edges, with great heart and compassion; he loves his family. I feel very comfortable with him. I don’t see ‘Denzel Washington Star’; I just see Denzel.”

― Viola Davis

“I was the kind of poor where I knew right away I had less than everyone around me. Our environment, our physical space reflected our income.”

― Viola Davis

“It became motivation as opposed to something else – the thing about poverty is that it starts affecting your mind and your spirit because people don’t see you. I chose from a very young age that I didn’t want that for my life. And it very much has helped me appreciate and value the things that are in my life now because I never had it.”

― Viola Davis

“It’s a dream to be able to just play a multi-faceted character.”

― Viola Davis

“You want to be able to really tackle a character and make it a fully-dimensional human being who is complicated, funny, and all the things that a person could be. If you can achieve that, you feel great. You so rarely get to do that as an actress in general, but as a black actress, it’s almost never.”

― Viola Davis

“Flashy characters are more entertaining to people because you get it. You don’t have to work to get someone who says what they mean and says what they think. They’re out there. It’s harder to play a quiet character because everything happens in their stream of consciousness.”

― Viola Davis

“I have been given a lot of roles that are downtrodden, mammy-ish. A lot of lawyers or doctors who have names but absolutely no lives. You’re going to get your three or four scenes; you’re not going to be able to show what you can do.”

― Viola Davis

“When you grow up in abject poverty, you see people exactly the way they are.”

― Viola Davis

“My whole thing is, I’ve got to be as good, as courageous as what’s written on the page.”

― Viola Davis

“When you see a parent pass, and you literally are there, and you’re sitting at that deathbed, man, and you have to tell them to go, it defines life for what it really is.”

― Viola Davis

“As an actor, every opportunity, every role, everything that I do is an opportunity to have someone have a human experience with my work. I don’t just want it to be about a cute wardrobe and a high paycheck.”

― Viola Davis

“Acting came from growing up in dysfunction. I mean, a lot of great times, but a lot of dysfunction.”

― Viola Davis

“I have had issues in the past with the characters and the limitations of the characters and the structure of the narratives given to me as a woman of color.”

― Viola Davis

“Turning 50 is making me reflect on my life in a way that’s more compassionate and forgiving.”

― Viola Davis

“When you grow up poor, you dream of just having a hom, and a bed that’s clean – that’s a sanctuary. Having a really great husband, a child who’s healthy and happy and brings me joy – all of that has been my dream.”

― Viola Davis

“I’m in the business of creating human beings.”

― Viola Davis

“I reserve the right to be a mess and completely unlikable.”

― Viola Davis

“You have to dare to make a choice that may be considered unorthodox in a role, but when you’re working as if there are tons of people watching you, that’s not necessarily a good thing.”

― Viola Davis

“’Fences’ is under the headline of the project of my lifetime. It is the most perfect and undeniably developed narrative that I’ve ever worked on.”

― Viola Davis

“It feels like my hard work has paid off, but at the same time, I still have the impostor, you know, syndrome. I still feel like I’m going to wake up, and everybody’s going to see me for the hack I am.”

― Viola Davis

“I still feel like when I walk on the set, I’m starting from scratch, until I realize, ‘OK, I do know what I’m doing. I’m human.’”

― Viola Davis

“I know I’m not the best, but I’m proud of myself.”

― Viola Davis

“You’re only reduced to a cliche if you don’t humanize a character.”

― Viola Davis

“Your job as an actor is to piece together whatever you’ve learned in your training, or whatever you have experienced in your life, to piece together a person.”

― Viola Davis

“My grandmom worked as a maid for most of her life, and she worked in the tobacco and the cotton fields, whatever she could get.”

― Viola Davis

“I don’t see a lot of narratives written where a woman who looks like me gets to be beautiful and sexualized and upwardly mobile, middle-class, funny, quirky. They’re very seldom written.”

― Viola Davis

“I think sometimes what people miss about black people is that we’re complicated, that we are indeed messy, that we do our best with what we’ve been given. We come into the world exactly like you. It’s just that there are circumstances in the culture that are dictated and put on our lives that we have to fight against.”

― Viola Davis

“People don’t understand that when you come into any theatrical experience, you’ve got to come locked and loaded, that you’re a part of the experience, too. You can’t come with your arms crossed. Be open to it.”

― Viola Davis

“My grandmother’s house was a one room shack.”

― Viola Davis

“What it meant for me to win the Emmy is I found it. It’s not just the award. It’s what it’s going to mean to young girls – young brown girls, especially. When they saw a physical manifestation of a dream, I felt like I had fulfilled a purpose.”

― Viola Davis

“I’m the journeyman actor that you saw in one scene here, two scenes there. I’ve been eking out a living doing theater – Broadway, Off Broadway – film supporting roles, that I’m just excited to be a part of the conversation.”

― Viola Davis

“I think women are very complicated human beings, and I think there’s an oversimplification of women when you see them on screen.”

― Viola Davis

“I feel the same way about Shondaland I feel about Africa and Greece. I feel pretty in both places. Men look at me like I’m a novelty, and women think I’m just cool. I feel absolutely at home immediately. I’m not altering myself to fit in. I’m walking in just as I am. And there are open arms stretched out to greet me.”

― Viola Davis

“That’s always the biggest surprise when people meet me: how buoyant I am and how fun and light I am.”

― Viola Davis

“I look back on those early days in the theater like the beginning of a love affair, when you’re totally in love with the work, and that’s all there is.”

― Viola Davis

“I stumbled onto the best profession to heal my childhood: the only one that lets you release and express whatever is ugly and messy and beautiful about your life. We’re in the business of creating human beings. The more we spew, and the more honestly we do it, the better. Try that on Wall Street.”

― Viola Davis

“I was bullied at school. The black girl in Central Falls, Rhode Island, in 1973. There’d be 8 or 10 boys; I would count them as I was running.”

― Viola Davis

“Those things that we probably are ashamed of as human beings, certain things that no one would ever talk about – as actors, when we transform into a character, we empathize with those moments.”

― Viola Davis

“August Wilson is the one writer that writes about men like my father, who had a fifth grade education, who was a janitor at McDonald’s.”

― Viola Davis

“’Rebel’ is not a word I would describe for myself, but I feel like I was a total rebel being an actor. It made me feel like there was something in me, a passion, a love – and that I didn’t just squelch it.”

― Viola Davis

“When people come into the theater, whether it’s the screen or the stage, they’ve gotta be transported and transformed.”

― Viola Davis

“When you’re poor, you are invisible. Every poor person will tell you nobody sees you. So being famous was me just wanting to be seen.”

― Viola Davis

“I just want different narratives for people of color, especially women of color. I just want something that’s different. I don’t want us to be put in a box. I want it to be kind of a redefinition of who were are. If I can even achieve that in a tiny way, I’ll be good. I’ll be good.”

― Viola Davis

“We didn’t have money all the time to do laundry. A lot of the time, we didn’t have soap or hot water. We were smart kids academically, but we’d go to school smelling.”

― Viola Davis

“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.”

― Viola Davis

“I cannot believe my life. I just can’t. I’m so blessed.”

― Viola Davis

“Sometimes there is no sugar-coating it. Sometimes you have to challenge people’s belief systems in a progressive way.”

― Viola Davis

“When you are an actor, you are in the most powerless position in this business.”

― Viola Davis

“I don’t know why directing is not something I’m interested in.”

― Viola Davis

“This is the richest country in the world. There’s no reason kids should be going to school hungry. Food is something that everyone should have. It just is.”

― Viola Davis

“I’ve had to sink my teeth into a role that was probably a fried-chicken dinner and make it into a filet mignon.”

― Viola Davis

“I think tapping into one’s power and one’s potential is a very frightening thing.”

― Viola Davis

“The more I’m pushed in a position of leadership and I know I have to be the mouthpiece for so many other people who can’t speak for themselves, the more confidence I’m gaining.”

― Viola Davis
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