Viola Davis stars in The Woman King, the story of the all-female warrior unit that protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century. The Oscar/Emmy/Tony Award winner portrays a general who trains the next generation of warriors.
After being in development for nearly eight years, Davis admits it looked doubtful the film would be completed.
“We’re thrust in the business automatically assuming that something is not going to happen if it’s never been done before,” Davis tells Essence for the digital cover of the September issue. “There’s not going to be any support, no one’s going to want to do it, no studio’s going to give it the green light vote and who would want to see me like that?”
However, her faith was renewed when one of the producers presented her with good news.
“Kathy Schulman came with the script by Dana Stevens and I was like, ‘Oh, OK."”
After beginning her career on Broadway 34 years ago, Davis is now one of the leading Black actresses in Hollywood. However, she is always conscious of the ongoing struggle for equality.
“There are no words to describe the journey, the sweat, the blood, the war that is being a Black artist and being a Black female artist,” the 57-year-old star says.
Viola says the Hollywood power brokers need to understand how Blacks have suffered unfairly in film and television.
“When they see the carnage of all the Black actors who were out there, even during the Sidney Poitier years, that couldn’t even have an agent, because it was nothing out there for them. If they see the blood, sweat and tears of what it took … then they would be on board,” Davis concludes.
The Woman King opens in theaters Friday, September 16.
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