Lady crush: Viola Davis

By Chantaie Allick

Viola Davis is like a summer storm: unexpected, powerful, strangely beautiful and a relief from the monotony of everyday.

She takes 7 minutes on-screen and turns it into an Oscar nomination. That is presence.

It’s not only that though. She makes black beautiful in a new way. She’s darker skinned, which is a thing in the states in and out of the Black communities—it’s a thing in Canada too, Africa too in fact. So in this international arena of a less then love-on for the darker skinned black lady, Ms. Davis has broken through some sort of glass ceiling.

You can’t deny her talent, or her presence or the fact that she’s great. No, she’s not a typical beauty and she’s so much more than the simple exterior (but she’s part of an industry that counts that first, so we’re allowed to talk about it).

I’m going to be honest though, I haven’t seen The Help. She’s the only reason I would and I still just can’t do it. I also haven’t seen Doubt. So maybe I’m a bad Viola Davis crush, but I love her by way of what others have said about her, what I’ve read about her and just how nice it feels, as a black woman, to see someone who looks like me admired for what she does.

They always say there are so few role models in black communities. That’s not true, at least in my views. What is sometimes lacking is a nuanced role model of depth. Yes, Oprah’s deep, but she’s an Everywoman. And Tyra Banks is hot and successful, but she is ideal in her beauty and comes off as crazy.

But Viola. She is a level-headed (seeming), normal woman who worked hard and reached a level of success that many of us can only dream about. Michelle Obama is another great example and she came onto most people’s radars before Ms. Davis did, but she is a woman for all women.

Viola is all mine. Or all ours. She represents the people who aren’t your typical in terms of beauty or outlook or anything else. But especially for Black women she reaffirms a value and personhood that society so often overlooks, deliberately ignores or negates.

Looking at her smooth coffee coloured skin, chic bob (or natural curls a la Oscars) , hear her deep, studied voice and see that smile, a hint of flashing teeth and scrunched nose and I can’t help but want to smile back. She is confident. This is a woman who knows and loves herself. This is a woman to look up to. Oh Viola. Please don’t change.

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