As Viola Davis nears the point of becoming the most nominated Black actress in Oscars history, the celebrated actress tells Variety that she’s not quite ready to relish in the honor.
“For me, it’s a reflection of the lack of opportunities and access people of color have had in this business,” she says. “If me, going back to the Oscars four times in 2021, makes me the most nominated Black actress in history, that’s a testament to the sheer lack of material there has been out there for artists of color.”
Tied with her close friend Octavia Spencer, Davis has three Oscar nods with one supporting actress win for her role in 2017’s Fences. Spencer shares the same stats with a supporting actress win for her role in 2012’s The Help.
Davis says that at this point in her career she is glad of the recognition, seeing award season as “a moment,” “a platform…another opportunity to open my mouth and speak a really fundamental truth about Hollywood and this business, and, really, America.”
She also notes the disparities in Hollywood that she hopes will soon change.
“There are a lot of white actresses out there, who are fairly young — in their 20s or 30s, who have been to the Academy Awards just as many times as me or more than me,” Davis says. “It is a reflection of their talent — but it’s also a reflection of their opportunities.”
“That’s what it is,” she continues. “It’s a reflection of how they had the chance — those three, four or five roles that were so good that brought them to that place. [Being a Black actress] is like having a fabulous body, but not having the right clothes to show it off.”
By Candice Williams
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