50 Shades of Black: Viola Davis Discusses Breaking Through as a Dark Skinned Leading Lady in New ABC Show

Viola Davis, who stars in “How to Get Away With Murder,” which debuts on Sept. 25 on ABC. GRAEME MITCHELL FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Viola Davis, who stars in “How to Get Away With Murder,” which debuts on Sept. 25 on ABC.

GRAEME MITCHELL FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

In a recent New York Times article Viola Davis kept it all the way real as she discussed the liberation she feels in having a lead role as a sexy, smart, and complex character in Shonda Rhimes' newest TV show "How to Get Away With Murder".

“How to Get Away With Murder,” which includes Shonda Rhimes among its executive producers, will be shown on Thursday nights after Rhimes’s two hit series, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” a generous lead-in that the network hopes will result in an instant hit. But that will depend, in part, on whether viewers embrace Davis — “a woman of color, of a certain age and a certain hue,” as she says — in her new capacity. “I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this. And you can’t even mention Halle Berry or Kerry Washington,” she told me, referring to two African-American stars with notably lighter skin.
— Amy Wallace, New York Times

Read this complete article to hear Davis discuss Hollywood's reasoning for not casting more black lead actors, the ability of Shonda Rhimes to weave multicultural dimensions into her shows without creating caricatures, and the impact of Taraji P. Henson, Denzel Washington, and how wearing her hair in an afro was like "stepping into myself" for the first time.

COMPLETE ARTICLE

Posted on September 23, 2014 and filed under Body Image, film, Identity, personal stories, race, skin tone.