Viola Davis: “It’s important for a black woman to know that she can lead a blockbuster without needing a white lead”

The American actress Viola Davis highlighted on Monday the importance of a black woman being able to be the protagonist of a successful film at the box office, at a press conference she gave in Rio de Janeiro to promote the launch in Brazil of the film “The Woman King”.

“It is important for a black woman to know that she can lead a blockbuster without needing a white or male lead,” said the actress and producer, winner of the Oscar for best supporting actress in 2016 for “Fences”.

According to specialized portals, the historical film starring Viola led the box office in the United States last weekend, the first after its premiere.

“The Woman King”, the story based on real events of a women’s regiment in Africa at the beginning of the 19th century, was directed by the American Gina Prince-Bythewood and has as protagonists, in addition to Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch and Sheila Atim.

The action is set in 1823 and focuses on the agojies, a women’s regiment formed in the kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin) to protect it from its neighbors and European powers, mainly the Portuguese, who were looking for slaves in the heart of Africa.

Davis stressed that “some of the great movies and the productions of the great filmmakers do not have a black presence.”

“And I’m not just talking about the physical presence of black people. Our power, our beauty and our differences are not represented in the big movies. What remains is the feeling that we are invisible,” he said.

The African-American with the most Oscar nominations stated that, in her 33-year career, it is the first time she has played a character in which she recognizes herself.

“I spent 10 years of my life studying acting and I played classic characters all my life. I never felt represented. And now, suddenly, I felt in my world. I was able to find all the facets of Viola and understand the complexity of being a woman black,” he said.

“Actresses like Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore are recognized as good because they’ve gained opportunities to show that they’re good, which doesn’t happen a lot with black actresses. It doesn’t matter if I’m not blonde, I have courage and I want characters that show that,” she said.

According to Davis, “The Woman King” has all the conditions to help black women feel valued. “This is our chance to be seen,” she said.

Davis chose Brazil as one of the first countries outside the United States that he visits to promote the film because it is the nation with the second largest number of Afro-descendants in the world and with historical social and racial differences.

The actress took advantage of her visit to Brazil to visit places such as the Valongo dock, an old port in Rio de Janeiro that received nearly a million slaves, the largest number in all of America, and of which only one archaeological excavation site remains.

He also visited the headquarters of the Mangueira samba school, which has dedicated several of its parades in recent carnivals to the fight against racism.

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