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Viola Davis Channels Her Mom In The Help; Reveals Mom Was A Maid

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Viola Davis, discusses her role in the film The Help. Davis talks about channeling her mother and grandmother to play the part Aibileen Clark, a maid. During the interview, Viola Davis reveals that her mom was indeed a maid in Rhode Island, during the period in which The Help takes place.

My mom was very young when she had me and worked as a domestic and in factories,” Davis said. “It was just terrible because she had gifts. She was capable. But there were no choices for her except basic survival. {Source}

Viola Davis plays the part of Aibileen Clark, a maid who was inspired to help write a book about racial injustice in the 1960’s South (from the maid’s perspective), after the tragic death of her son in a work related accident.  In order to play the part, Viola Davis relied heavily on inspiration from within her on family:

I feel like I’ve brought my mom to life; I’ve channeled her spirit,” the Oscar-nominee told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s premiere. “I channeled the spirit of my grandmother, and I’ve kind of paid homage to how they’ve contributed to my life and the lives of so many people.

Viola Davis also sat down with Essence to answer five questions about the The Help, and why she feel black women should support this film.

ESSENCE.COM: There’s been some criticism of “The Help.” Do you think Black women will support the film?

VIOLA DAVIS: Yes, I do. I think people will support the film because they’ll be curious enough to walk into the theater. And once they walk into the theater, I think that a lot of their misgivings will be dispelled because I believe what me, Octavia, Cicely Tyson, Aunjanue Ellis and Roslyn Ruff are able to do is humanize these maids. They are no longer just women whose backs you only see in the kitchen taking care of kids. These are real people. And it’s palpable. They start off very ordinary — but human, and by the end of the movie they turn into heroes. I think that in of itself will be enough to satisfy the need we have to be seen and heard as Black women.

ESSENCE.COM: What lessons did you learn from your character, Aibileen?
VIOLA: I learned about the contributions of everyday people. The people who didn’t make it into the history books but paved the way for us. The domestics, bus drivers, garbage men. What I learned from Aibileen is the courage it took to just live the every day being black in 1961 Mississippi. The courage it took to just stand on your own two feet, put food on the table and just survive. Just to simply survive. And to me, it’s homage to my mom, grandmother and women in my life.
ESSENCE.COM: Were there scenes that made you uncomfortable or angry?
VIOLA: Yes, absolutely. Being in that Bridge Club scene pouring tea. I had to shoot that scene for two weeks and I had no lines. I’d do the scene and listen to white people and how they talk about you like you’re not there. Feeling invisible.{Read More: Viola Davis Talks About The Help With Essence}
Remember The Help is in theaters now. Take your girlfriends on a date to see this one.

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