In 2011, Viola Davis earned her first Oscar nomination playing Aibileen Clark in “The Help.” The film focused on domestic servants telling their stories of racism to a young, white author in 1963 Mississippi. Octavia Spencer won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Minny. Davis recently spoke out about the role and she now regrets it.
The Oscar, Tony and Emmy winner told the New York Times, “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.”
The film was hit with tons of controversy at the time. There were calls to boycott the film. Back in 2011, Davis said, “I think that oftentimes, we as African-Americans are so ashamed of the slave, of the maid, and all that we were and not understanding that it is on the backs of the slaves and the domestics that have brought us to where we are.” She added, “It’s through the ordinary people that we get a glimpse of who we are.”
Nonetheless, Viola Davis was amazing in the help — as she is in everything, but we are happy that she now has more control over her narrative and has knocked down so many barriers.