Viola Davis Says ‘The Help’ Was Created “In the Cesspool of Systemic Racism”


Viola Davis spoke with Vanity Fair about her role in The Help.

Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis covered the July/August issue of Vanity Fair. In the cover story, the 54-year-old actress spoke out about wanting to join the George Floyd protests, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as her struggles and triumphs in Hollywood.

Davis also doubled down on her 2018 remarks about her 2011 film The Help. While the movie earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, Davis has made it clear that she regrets the role.

“There’s no one who’s not entertained by The Help,” she said. “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].” Davis added that the movie was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism.”

Davis explains that at that point in her career, the opportunity was too alluring to pass up. “I was that journeyman actor, trying to get in,” she continued. “There’s not enough opportunities out there to bring that unknown, faceless Black actress to the ranks of the known. To pop her!”

At the beginning of June, the movie resurged to Netflix’s most-watched charts during protests over the death of George Floyd. Fellow cast member Bryce Dallas Howard urged fans to “go further” than simply streaming the movie.

“I’m so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from that film,” he wrote, “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.”

Torry Threadcraft

Torry Threadcraft is a writer who covers music, sports, and culture. You can find his daily ramblings and culinary takes at @dreadcraft.

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Torry Threadcraft

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