In an incredibly candid interview with The New York Times, Viola Davis opened up about her decision to get a hysterectomy some years ago, an operation that consists of the surgical removal of a woman’s uterus.
Viola, who looks identical to her character Michelle Obama in the upcoming Showtime TV series The First Lady, has been honest about her struggles with uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths in the uterus that can cause bleeding, infertility, and miscarriages. Although she underwent a hysterectomy years ago, the actor is now opening up about the journey and the struggles that led her to the procedure.
In the interview with the New York Times, Viola recounted that, after starring in the 1996 play Seven Guitars, she found herself in the financial position to afford a surgery that would remove the fibroids. The procedure also gave her the chance to conceive naturally for a limited amount of time. She was in her early 30s and intent on having children and so began praying to find the right man to start a family with.
"God, you have not heard from me in a long time. I know you're surprised. My name is Viola Davis," she recounted saying as part of her prayers. She hoped the man she'd meet would be from the country, Black and with children of his own. Her devotion worked: just a few weeks later, Viola met Julius Tennon, a fellow actor whom she's now been married to for almost two decades.
Given her constant reproductive challenges, the actor was forced to have a myomectomy to remove 33 fibroids a few years after meeting Julius. She had the hysterectomy that she now so openly speaks about just a few years after that.
At the time, she was scheduled to have an operation on an abscessed fallopian tube and she recalled telling the doctor, "if I wake up and my uterus is still here, I'm going to kick your ass."
Although the now 56-year-old actor didn't end up having biological children in the end and instead adopted her daughter Genesis back in 2011 with her husband Julius.
When discussing the couple's decision to adopt, Viola gave credit to fellow actor Lorraine Toussaint, who, according to the Times, "adopted a child because she didn't want 'series regular' to be the only words on her tombstone."
This isn't the first time that Viola has been candid about life decisions. A couple of years ago, she admitted to feeling like she "betrayed" herself with her iconic role in The Help, for example. She specifically argued that the movie was "created in the filter and the cesspool of systemic racism."
We appreciate Viola's honesty and can't wait to catch her on her latest acting gig as Michelle on The First Lady, which premieres this Sunday on Showtime.
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Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.
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