Viola Davis admits she ‘betrayed’ herself with role in The Help

viola davis admits betrayed herself the help role
(Image credit: Getty)

Hollywood actress Viola Davis has opened up about how she feels she ‘betrayed’ herself with her role in The Help.

The How To Get Away with Murder star, who has built an acclaimed career and in her time achieved the ‘Triple Crown of Acting’ – winning an Emmy, an Oscar and a Tony award – opened up in an interview with Vanity Fair about her views on the role.

The 2011 film, which is set in Mississippi in the 1960s, follows Black maids working for rich families in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement.

It has become one of the most-watched films on Netflix amid the prominence recent Black Lives Matter movement, however, Viola has claimed the film was "created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism".

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It was "invested in the idea of what it means to be Black" but catered "to the white audience", claimed Viola after the film had recently been criticised for it’s alleged “white saviour” narrative.

"There's no one who's not entertained by The Help,” she said.

“But there's a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn't ready to [tell the whole truth]," the actress told Vanity Fair.

MORE: Duchess Meghan Markle speaks out on Black Lives Matter movement in moving speech

"I was that journeyman actor, trying to get in."

However, Viola spoke about her respect for the film’s writer and director, Tate Taylor, and praised the predominantly female cast, made up of Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer.

"I cannot tell you the love I have for these women, and the love they have for me,” she said.

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"But with any movie - are people ready for the truth?"

Co-star Bryce Dallas Howard also recently spoke out about the film, saying, "I'm so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from that film -- our bond is something I treasure deeply and will last a lifetime.

"This being said, The Help is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further," she wrote on Facebook, when she shared a list of alternative films that "centre black lives".

Aleesha Badkar
Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is digital shopping writer at woman&home - so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows all the best places to splash your cash. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 after graduating from University of Leeds in 2014 with a BA in English and Spanish (which took her to Madrid for a fun Rioja and tapas-packed year). Aleesha has worked for woman&home since 2019, when she joined the team as their digital news writer. A year on the news team gained her quick and reactive writing skills and a love for breaking stories, invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first, an AOP awards nomination and the nickname ‘crazy watch lady’ after she became so obsessed with the royals that she followed breaking news alerts on her Apple Watch.


Before joining the woman&home team, Aleesha wrote for their sister site GoodtoKnow, where she covered celebrity news, health advice and where to snap up the cheapest lifestyle buys. With a background in beauty, Aleesha has also written for Stylist and Women’s Health where she developed an understanding into what makes a stellar product and which brands are worth paying attention to. She never leaves the house without a slick of lip balm and a good slathering of SPF, cannot live without an eyelash curler by her side and is always on the hunt for new lipsticks to add to her ‘Lipstick of the Day’ Instagram story highlight (and color-coordinated collection).

But it’s not just beauty buys Aleesha can help you with. Social media savviness, strong PR relationships and a need to stay in the know mean she’s all about the latest fashions, clever gadgets and reliable lifestyle buys too. She loves indulging in an interior craze (with a bedroom drowned in prints, plants and pink), is a regular visitor to the Missoma and Edge of Ember 'New In' pages and can’t resist the allure of a kitchen gadget—just ask her three coffee machines.

When she’s not playing around with new products and testing anything she can get her hands on, Aleesha spends most of her time with her head in a current bestseller, catching up on the latest Netflix craze with her sister, trying out new recipes, drinking wine with her bestie and (in non-COVID times) has been known to be a bit of a jetsetter amongst her friendship group. Oh and she makes the most of her Disney+ subscription by watching the Marvel films on repeat (definitely not just for Chris Evans...).

Follow her latest shopping & lifestyle advice, beauty insights and social antics on Instagram at @aleeshabadkar.


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