Brilliant thespian, Viola Davis, revealed that she has some regrets about one of her Oscar-nominated roles.
“Have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted I have, and ‘The Help’ is on that list. Being that role model and picking up that baton when you’re struggling in your own life has been difficult,” she said, but “I choose to be the leader.”
“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, an Academy Award winner, an Emmy winner, and a Tony winner, did go on to say that she formed great friendships with the cast and crew from the film.
“The friendships that I formed are ones that I’m going to have for the rest of my life,” Davis said. “I had a great experience with these other actresses, who are extraordinary human beings. And I could not ask for a better collaborator than Tate Taylor [director of The Help].”
Her epiphany was the sentiments of many Black women who saw the film. When the movie was released in 2011, Black critics sounded off about the film.
The Association of Black Women Historians even released a statement about the drama, stating: “Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of Black domestic workers. The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip Black women’s lives of historical accuracy, for the sake of entertainment.”
Although the association’s rightful critique of the film was poignant, members did acknowledge Davis’ and Octavia Spencer’s stellar performances.
“The Help” was an incredibly successful movie, but it completely ignored the voices of the marginalized Black women in the film. Black domestic workers were often forced to neglect their own families for their white employers. The implications of that lifestyle were never addressed in the film.
Hopefully, Hollywood will take heed of the Davis’ critique and do better in capturing Black voices when it comes to our stories.