The Hollywood Reporter featured Viola on the cover of their special issue that has been released! Personally I feel she is a great choice!
In a candid discussion, the ‘Widows’ star — and Sherry Lansing Leadership Award honoree — reveals herself to best-selling author and leadership guru Brené Brown in a raw exchange about trauma, healing, politics (“I see America as that uncle who loved you more than anything, but has a record for murder”) and how Time’s Up is changing Hollywood: “Now, I don’t have to walk into the room like a dude, have a pretend penis and sling it on the table” to be heard.
Viola Davis and Brené Brown first spoke in May 2017. Davis had recently won her Oscar for Fences, and Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston and the author of multiple best-sellers on courage and vulnerability, was developing her 2017 book, Braving the Wilderness. Brown’s work as a leadership consultant has earned her fans in Silicon Valley (Melinda Gates: “Brené taught me that leadership requires admitting what you don’t know instead of pretending to know everything”), Hollywood (her A-list acolytes include Reese Witherspoon, Amy Adams, Laverne Cox and Oprah Winfrey, who calls her a “soul mate”) and well beyond (her two TED Talks have close to 50 million views between them).
Brown was eager to interview Davis because “she’s such an incredible example of what it means to belong to yourself before you belong to anyone else.” And Davis embraced being part of Brown’s book because the actress had begun to speak more openly about the traumas of her past — growing up extremely poor, hungry and abused in Central Falls, Rhode Island — and her healing path, which includes her art as well as her activism on behalf of impoverished families. The star has helped raise more than $20 million to fight hunger as an ambassador for the Hunger Is campaign, and has donated funding to the local library and the high school theater program in her hometown, as well as supported a community health clinic there.
Davis’ 2017 conversation with Brown ranged from her damaged childhood (“I was a bed-wetter until I was 12 or 13. I smelled. Teachers complained about the smell and sent me to the nurse’s office.”) to the fear and anxiety she carried into her adult life and, finally, her awakening, at age 38, to her own strength.
Today, the 53-year-old Davis’ star is shining brighter than ever: The perennial awards contender has notched two more Emmy nominations (she won in 2015 for ABC’s Shondaland drama How to Get Away With Murder, becoming the first black woman ever to take the drama lead actress honors) and is in the Oscar conversation now for her work on Steve McQueen’s female-centered heist film, Widows. JuVee, the production company she founded with husband Julius Tennon in 2011 (the same year they adopted their daughter, Genesis), recently announced a first-look feature deal with Amazon (JuVee’s overall TV pact with ABC is ongoing). And THR’s 2018 Sherry Lansing Leadership Award honoree says she is “defiantly in the season of finding myself again.” So in a searching conversation on Nov. 26 — edited for length and clarity — she and Brown picked up right where they left off.