Mz Davis Gets Her Turn

Posted: September 29, 2014 in General Interest
Photo: Ruven Afanador, LA Times

Photo: Ruven Afanador, LA Times

Viola Davis is finally getting her turn to shine. Her starring role in the new show “How to Get Away With Murder.” The show follows “Scandal” on Thursday nights. At 49, with two Tony awards and an Academy Award nomination, she should not have to keep earning acceptance. Fortunately, when Queen Shonda Rhimes has anything to do with your future, you have officially been anointed and are practically guaranteed success.

Hollywood loves Viola. But they usually stuff her into the stereotypical image they like best. Lots of shapeless down trodden polyester housekeeper clothes, $12.99 church lady wigs, and not many opportunities to smile. She’s usually in a movie to serve and make life better for other people.

When she finally broke wide at the 2012 Oscars wearing that bright green Vera Wang gown, and rocking her natural hair, smiling a mile wide, I jumped off the couch and clapped out loud. Yes sister Davis!!!! She looked so flawless  as if to say “look Hollywood, who’s The Help Now?!?!?!?!”

She’s been typecast as the single struggling Mom so many times she could play that role in her sleep. Variations on that are the “struggling friend” with no personal life of her own, and the “miserable teacher.”

Unfortunately the brainless white New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley made the mistake of describing her as being less than classically beautiful. What???!?!? The article was immediately denounced by just about everyone. Lady Davis was NOT having it and her response on “The View” was swift.  (Excerpt From Essence Magazine)

“I’m glad that Shonda Rhimes saw me and said “Why not?” That’s what makes her a visionary. That’s what makes her iconic. I think that beauty is subjective. I’ve heard that statement [less classically beautiful] my entire life. Being a dark-skinned black woman, you heard it from the womb. And “classically not beautiful” is a fancy term for saying ugly. And denouncing you. And erasing you. Now … it worked when I was younger. It no longer works for me now. It’s about teaching a culture how to treat you. Because at the end of the day, you define you.”

BOOM, No other words necessary. Truth! No she’s not ugly, and yes she’s way past being tired of the media and society thinking that and expecting her to just roll over and take it.

It’s ridiculous how woman of color are the only culture that have to lobby for our looks, and for the right to experience and express the full range of our emotions without being slapped with that worn out label, THE ANGRY BLACK WOMAN. It sounds like a threat even more scary than unleashing the Kracken.

Enough about that. Let’s get to her show. I watched it and liked what I saw. Here are the reasons I’ll watch next week:

Her acting. Sly, steely, over the top. Sexy, sneaky, ruthless, bossy, brilliant. Of course she’s strong, but Black woman are so automatically assigned that responsibility that I kinda didn’t want to include that.

The form-fitting clothes on that hot 49-year-old body. Yes to the costume designers! That tapered, smoother than butter red leather blazer, that green trench, yes to all of that. Thank God they’re dressing her in colors other than black, brown, or grey. Viola is all dangerous curves and in most movies, she’s always in shapeless sacks. It’s kinda weird, like Hollywood can’t imagine her in a role looking glamorous? Her face is made up to perfection, and she’s looking her age instead of the underdone late 50’s look we’ve seen in most of her movies. She looks well rested. She’s usually made up to look so exhausted. The woman is only 49 but she always looked like a grandma in her movies, I think Hollywood is afraid of her hotness. TV, fortunately for us is not. She’s dressed to stand out, not blend in. She’s commandingly fierce. Queen Shonda the hit maker is letting Viola bring the sexy. Finally, someone knows what do with this gift of an actress.

Side note, she was on Jimmy Kimmel rocking a black leather dress, giggling and cracking jokes about her dependence on Spanx, loving Costco and other everyday Viola tidbits, giving us relaxed Viola.

She’s showing a broader range of acting skills. Viola can arrange and melt her face into an image of despair, hurt, and sorrow so well that Hollywood makes her use that as her “go-to” expression. Television is letting her bring the PRETTY and the Fierce.

“Never take a learning opportunity away from another student, no matter how smart you THINK you are.” This line from a lecture hall scene? YES Mz Ma’am!

Those fluffy eyelashes. LIFE

That broach on that black dress? YES

The sculpted body on that law enforcement boyfriend brother she got caught creeping with. Then Mz Thing was nervy enough to fake grill her side piece on the witness stand. All in a day’s work.

That scene where she was crying and she asked her strapping, wide-eyed, young student to keep it quiet, while she absent-mindedly stroked his chest. Yes Vi, gratuitous touching of young studly students. Get it in girl. Give him an A.

The way she nonchalantly hands her briefcase over to her assistant without even looking at her, like Amanda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Throw that power around like a baseball at the World Series.

The things that made my brows meet in the middle, then cock to the left:

Must she have a white husband?  Blatant swirling is the new already over-used plot device in a lot of TV shows now. YAWN zzzzzzzzzz. Shonda Rhimes loves diversity, and so do I, but I  hoped for some solidarity on this one, and that her love interest would have been from team brown skin.

The law students, there are so many of them, like a basket of puppies that won’t behave.

In the scene where she stood at the mirror with that beautiful tear stained face, smoky eye makeup still intact, and then adjusted that awful wig hat, the invisible thought bubble over her head was saying “Why do I have to keep letting them put me in these hideous beauty supply store wigs? My natural hair is so fly.”

The wig tho???? Why??? NATURAL HAIR IS NOT THE ENEMY!!!!!!

I hope the show gains a loyal following, Viola Davis deserves all the success she’s worked so hard for, and thank goodness she can finally put down that broom, that mop, and that maid uniform. Hollywood is going to have to find themselves a new housekeeper.

 

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Comments
  1. My faves from this wonderful post:
    – you have officially been anointed
    – Lots of shapeless down trodden polyester housekeeper clothes, $12.99 church lady wigs, and not many opportunities to smile. She’s usually in a movie to serve and make life better for other people.
    – as if to say “look Hollywood, who’s The Help Now?!?!?!?!”
    – It sounds like a threat even more scary than unleashing the Kracken.
    – She’s dressed to stand out, not blend in.
    – Viola can arrange and melt her face into an image of despair, hurt, and sorrow so well that Hollywood makes her use that as her “go-to” expression. Television is letting her bring the PRETTY and the Fierce.
    – like Amanda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada.”
    – like a basket of puppies that won’t behave.
    – Hollywood is going to have to find themselves a new housekeeper.

    Ms. Shannyn Marie, I say “YES” to all of that!! Great blog!!!

    Like

  2. Petronia says:

    Shannyn Marie, A GREAT blog!! Just what I’ve been waiting for. I always wanted to see and hear about the Real MS. Davis. Loved it. I’ll become a regular viewer and encourage all of my peers to watch and enjoy it also.

    Like

  3. puccdetroit says:

    I really like this piece. You are such a good writer!

    Nick

    Nicholas Hood III Senior Minister, Plymouth United Church of Christ 600 E. Warren Ave. Detroit, Michigan 48201 http://www.puccdetroit.org

    nhoo996937@aol.com

    Like

  4. zoerabbit says:

    I’ve missed you. Good article. Great counterpoint to that NYT mess.

    Like

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