Oscar-winning actor Viola Davis has revealed the one thing fans would be most surprised to know about her: She's not as serious as some of the tough or scary characters she plays.
“You know what? I always say this, and I hate saying this, too,” Davis said during an interview that aired Thursday on BuzzFeed News’ morning show AM to DM. “I think that people don’t think that I’m fun.”
Davis, who usually plays very serious, complicated characters in her film and television work, was responding to a question that host Isaac Fitzgerald posed about what might shock fans about the veteran performer.
“I am a blast!” insisted Davis, who cheerily invited Fitzgerald to “have a couple of really great cocktails” with her.
The star of Widows and How to Get Away With Murder said her “fun approach to life” comes from the fact that “so much of my childhood, I had big problems that I had to deal with every day, of not having food and feeling every day was a fight for survival.”
As a result, Davis said, she felt much of her childhood was lost, and she wants her daughter, Genesis, to have what she didn’t: memories of “smiles and a fun mom.”
The wide-ranging interview also touched on what Davis believes the future of Hollywood will look like, as well as two upcoming passion projects she’s excited to share with the world.
Davis is currently doing promotion for the documentary A Touch of Sugar, a film funded by pharmaceutical company Merck that she narrated, which focuses on the diabetes epidemic, a chronic disease that affects more than 30 million people in the US.
Davis has a vested interest because the disease affects people in her family, including her sisters, her maternal grandmother, and her great-aunt. She even revealed that she’s prediabetic, a condition in which your blood sugar is high but doesn’t rise to the level of full-on diabetes.
“I think it’s just something that people feel isn’t serious,” she said. “They don’t understand that it permeates every aspect of your health and that it is, at the end of the day, a disease.”
In addition to that documentary, Davis also lent her talent to Emanuel, a film she helped produce, which sheds light on the families affected by the murder of nine black people attending Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 at the hands of a white supremacist.
Davis said she “saw firsthand the devastation of that mass shooting," adding that she couldn’t sleep because she witnessed “the effects and the devastation of racism and hate.”
Davis met families of the victims and didn’t want people to forget the violence that occurred: “I know that we live in a hashtag-trending environment where stories are news for five seconds, and then all of a sudden something else comes into place that makes you forget about it.
“And I literally knew that probably in another couple of weeks, I can mention Emanuel or Dylann Roof or the AME church, and people would say, ‘What? Who?’ And I don’t think that that’s fair,” said Davis. “I think it should be tattooed in people’s memory as to the effects of violence, of hate, in America. I wanted people to remember.”
Davis is also hopeful that some of the new voices in Hollywood will usher in real change in the entertainment industry.
“A lot of emerging artists inspire me: people who are unknown, people who are writing scripts out there who don’t have a name, and a lot of them who don’t have a way in,” Davis said.
“All they’re waiting for is an opportunity,” she continued, in a way that was reminiscent of her 2015 Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
“Those are the people who are going to bring us into the future,” she said.
You can watch the full interview with Viola Davis below: