Viola Davis reveals more about why she regrets starring in 'The Help' and how it feels like a self-betrayal

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Viola Davis reveals more about why she regrets starring in 'The Help' and how it feels like a self-betrayal
Viola Davis at the premiere of "The Help" in Beverly Hills, California, on Tuesday, August 9, 2011.AP
  • Viola Davis regrets starring in the 2011 movie "The Help," a film that received Hollywood awards but was met with criticism from Black writers.
  • In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Davis says "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 also said it was "created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism."
  • Davis first spoke out about her regret in a 2018 New York Times Q&A, when she said: "I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn't the voices of the maids that were heard."

In the months following the death of George Floyd and global interest in the Black Lives Matter movement, many people are closely examining systemic racism in Hollywood. In a new cover feature with Vanity Fair, actress Viola Davis reflected on one of her biggest breakout movie roles: Aibileen Clark in the 2011 movie "The Help."

"Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity," Davis told Vanity Fair. "They're invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but…it's catering to the white audience."

"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]," Davis said. She added that it was "created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism."

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Viola Davis reveals more about why she regrets starring in 'The Help' and how it feels like a self-betrayal
Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, and Viola Davis costarred together in "The Help."DreamWorks

This isn't the first time Davis has spoken about her regrets around the movie. Back in 2018, Davis did a fan Q&A with the New York Times. When asked if there was a role she regretted turning down, Davis flipped the question.

"Almost a better question is, have I ever done roles that I've regretted? I have, and 'The Help' is on that list," Davis said.

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In both interviews, Davis emphasized her positive experience working with the movie's white director and writer Tate Taylor, as well as her costars. Her fault with the movie is how her character, and the other Black characters in the movie, were not the experiential focus of the film.

Davis isn't the only actress with regrets around the movie. Bryce Dallas Howard, who played one of the racist antagonists in "The Help," told the Los Angeles Times that she wouldn't make that movie today.

"Right now, in this time, stories are going to play a crucial role in our ability to empathize and to be inspired into action," Howard said. "And the storytellers who we must listen to right now and look to and learn from — there's an extraordinary body of work that centers on Black characters from Black creators."

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Read the full Vanity Fair cover story with Viola Davis here.

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