Viola is one of the women featured in the May issue of Essence magazine for their work promoting equal rights.
For the first time ever, ESSENCE honors the women who are blazing trails for equal rights and inclusion for Black people in America.
The cover features a host of dynamic women, such as writer/producer Shonda Rhimes, veteran journalist Joy-Ann Reid, Women’s March co-chairs Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez. Plus, appearances from Women’s March organizer Janaye Ingram, political commentator Angela Rye, Circle of Mothers founder Sybrina Fulton, author/blogger Luvvie Ajayi and social activist April Reign. #BlackLivesMatter cofounder Opal Tometi and educator/activist Brittany Packnett are also featured.
When we say Black women will save the world, we’re being literal.
On the following pages, ESSENCE recognizes 88 more socially conscious change makers. By their example they empower all of us to take action.
Here is a video clip of Viola reading Rent Party Jazz a children’s book written by William Miller and illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb.
This story is set in New Orleans in the 1930s. Sonny and his mother are scraping by to pay their rent. Mama works in a fish canning factory, and Sonny works for the coal man before school each morning. When Mama loses her job, they no longer have enough money for the rent and fear that the landlord will turn them out. One day Sonny meets Smilin’ Jack, a jazz musician who is playing his trumpet in Jackson Square. Smilin’ Jack offers to play at a party at Sonny’s house to help raise money for the rent. The neighbors all come to sing and dance and before they leave, drop some coins in a bucket. Sonny learns how people can help one another “if they put their minds and hearts to it.”
The Tampa Bay Times did this article on how students at the University of South Florida decided to bring Viola to their campus to speak to their students …
TAMPA — Six minutes was all it took for University of South Florida staffers to realize they were going to need a bigger building.
They had announced that Academy Award-winner Viola Davis would deliver a free lecture on campus on April 4, during its annual USF Week. As soon as a link for tickets went live, students snapped them up.
Behind the scenes, USF officials conferred. The university has hosted big speakers before, but this demand blew past their expectations.
Each year, students on the University Lecture Series board decide how they want to use student funds to bring speakers to campus, hitting the sweet spot of entertaining and educational.
Viola Davis was the dream speaker on students’ lists this year, even before she won an Oscar for her role in Fences and delivered a rousing acceptance speech.
“The students truly wanted her,” said Monica L. Miranda, who works with the student committee as director of the Center for Student Involvement. “They didn’t want her because she was an Academy Award winner. That was a bonus to them.”
Booking the star of The Help, Doubt and ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder cost $70,000, pre-Oscar.
Organizers thought that 900 seats in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom and 700 seats to watch the live stream would do just fine, but students quickly proved them wrong. Soon they announced a move to the Sun Dome, where members of the public will be able to get in, too. (It’s first-come, first-served, so don’t dally.)
Davis is expected to speak about her personal and professional life, from childhood poverty to battling the biases of Hollywood.
Despite Davis’ price tag, USF officials said her lecture didn’t cut too deeply into their budget for other speakers. This year, they’ve brought in a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, a deaf activist who competed on Dancing with the Stars and “What Would You Do?” host John Quinones, among others.
“Our mission is to get as diversified a lineup as possible to be the most educational,” said Marion Huntley, a USF program director.
A few years ago, the Times took a behind-the-scenes look at how students choose the year’s speakers.
“The right choice is listening to the students,” Huntley said. “As long as we’re listening to what the students want, we’re making the right decision.”
Doors open at 7:45 p.m. For more information, check out USF’s site.
I have added three new promotional images that were taken for the film Lila & Eve to our gallery.
I came across four stills from Viola’s film Custody that premiered on Lifetime this past Saturday.
This past weekend Viola was awarded the Harvard Foundation’s 2017 Artist Of The Year Award. Congratulations Viola on this achievement!
Don’t forget to watch Custody tomorrow night when it premieres on Lifetime. Viola stars and produces this film!