Why Viola regrets Help

Oscar winner Viola Davis regrets working in the critically acclaimed film The Help, saying she had issues with portrayal of its lead character.

  • Published 19.09.18
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Viola Davis

Oscar winner Viola Davis regrets working in the critically acclaimed film The Help, saying she had issues with portrayal of its lead character.

Davis, 53, had portrayed black maid Aibileen Clark in Tate Taylor’s period drama for which she had received a Best Actress nomination at the 84th Academy Awards.

In an interview with The New York Times at the Toronto Film Festival, Davis was asked whether she regretted any role that she passed on and she said there “have been one or two”.

Viola went on to add: “Have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted? I have, and The Help is on that list.”

The actress explained that though she had a great time working with Taylor and her cast-mates, including Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain and Allison Janney, she believes the film did not do enough to prioritise the stories of the maids.

“I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard. I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. 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,” Davis said.

Upon its release, the film had attracted criticism for over-crediting white women for improvements in race relations. During the interview, Davis also talked about carrying the weight of being an A-list black actor in Hollywood.

“The responsibility of feeling like I am the great black female hope for women of colour has been a real professional challenge. Being that role model and picking up that baton when you’re struggling in your own life has been difficult,” she said. “Looking at the deficit and seeing that once you’re on top, you can either take the role of leadership or you can toss it in the garbage and say, ‘I’m just out to save myself.’ I choose to be the leader.”

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