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Viola Davis Regrets ‘The Help’ Role, Feels Like She Betrayed Herself And Black People

Viola Davis Regrets ‘The Help’ Role, Feels Like She Betrayed Herself And Black People

Award-winning actress Viola Davis said she regrets taking the role of Aibileen Clark in The Help because she feels like she betrayed herself and her people. In this photo, Davis arrives at the premiere of “The Help” in Beverly Hills, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. “The Help” opens in theaters Aug. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Award-winning actress Viola Davis is known for her iconic roles, but there is one she wishes she wouldn’t have taken. Though she received high praise and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of 1960s housemaid Aibileen Clark in the acclaimed film “The Help,” Davis said she regrets taking the role.

“There’s no one who’s not entertained by The Help,” Davis said, according to Entertainment Weekly. “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].” She adds that the film was “created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism.”

She made the statements after renewed interest in the 2011 film amid an unprecedented scale of Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd.

This is not the first time Davis has expressed her regret for playing Aibileen. She made similar statements to the New York Times in 2018, telling the paper, “Have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted? I have, and The Help is on that list.”


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The first Black actress to earn the Triple Crown of Acting, Davis said Hollywood should be more concerned about Black humanity and not just filling a quota to appease a white audience.

Davis said in Hollywood’s film industry, there are “not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity,” but the film powers that be are more “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.”

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Her words are underscored by the fact that this month she once again became a part of Black history. Davis is the cover feature for the most recent issue of Vanity Fair, the first shot by a Black photographer in the magazine’s nearly 40-year existence.

The irony that there are still so many firsts for Black people and it is 2020 is not lost on Davis. She said she took the role of Aibileen to break through the veil that holds so many Black actresses’ captive.

“There’s not enough opportunities out there to bring that unknown, faceless Black actress to the ranks of the known. To pop her!” Davis said. “I was that journeyman actor, trying to get in.”

She is unapologetic about using her influence to fight for justice for her people and standing up for equality.

“I feel like my entire life has been a protest. My production company is my protest. Me not wearing a wig at the Oscars in 2012 was my protest. It is a part of my voice, just like introducing myself to you and saying, ‘Hello, my name is Viola Davis,’” she said.