Viola Davis Addresses Black Actresses, Racism In “The Help”

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“The black artist cannot live in a revisionist place. The black artist can only tell the truth about humanity, and humanity is messy. People are messy. Caucasian actors know that. … We as African-American artists are more concerned with image and message and not execution, which is why every time you see your images they’ve been watered down to the point where they are not realistic at all. My whole thing is, do I always have be noble? As an artist, you’ve got to see the mess.”

Actress Viola Davis responds to journalist Tavis Smiley regarding their roles in “The Help,” which has been criticized for being a “Hooray, White People Solved Racism” movie. Smiley told his guests, Viola and Octavia Spencer, that “I want you to win [an Oscar], but I’m ambivalent about what you’re winning for.” Whether you agree with Viola’s reply or not, it was earnest and, in my opinion, a refreshing response to the litany of complaints about “The Help” that have dogged it since the film came out. She’s probably sick of people saying this to her face and knowing people are saying it behind her back, too. [New York Times via YouTube]

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