Viola gives a very powerful speech as she accepts the Icon Award at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards last night.
“Chrissy Teigen ruined it for me. [Tiegen had mentioned Davis’ coming remarks in her own acceptance speech earlier.] I actually don’t have much to say. I just find it so interesting that some of the greatest myths come out of people just dying to themselves and being resurrected. It always starts with a death. It always starts with just hitting rock bottom and having nothing left.
“You know, I came from a story where I didn’t feel just less-than or I just didn’t have a voice or not pretty. I felt invisible. I came from a long line of women who felt invisible. And they’re the ones who attempted to throw me an invisible rope. Courage is just fear said with prayers. And I feel that it takes a great deal of courage to hit bottom and feel invisible and then to share one’s story. But it’s in the sharing of the story in front of people who have empathy that kills shame. And once that shame is killed, guess what? You’re running. When I look at the zeitgeist today and look at what is happening with women in terms of sexual assault, in terms of poverty, in terms of politically what’s happening, I think to myself the change and the shift that needs to happen is the internal. It’s finding the courage to own one’s story. To say and wake up one day and feel, like, ‘Damn, I’m not perfect.’ Sometimes I don’t feel pretty. Sometimes I don’t want to slay the dragon. Sometimes the dragon I’m slaying is myself, but damn it, I am worth it. I don’t have to barter for my worth. I don’t have to pay someone for it. I came out of my mom’s womb worthy.
“At 25, which was a time in my life that I was at Juilliard, and they basically said, ‘You’re overweight. You’re going to play a matriarch your entire life. What kind of roles can you play, Viola?’ And I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, I know I’m an actor. I know that’s what I was born to do. That’s what’s going to make my life worthwhile. I know I have something in me.’