Viola Davis spoke about a director once calling her his maid’s name and how she hoped her How to Get Away with Murder role would have opened more doors for dark-skinned actresses.
Davis revealed the harrowing story about a personal experience with racism in the film industry.
During the panel, she said that at one point in her career, a director called her by his maid's name.
“I had a director who did that to me,” she said. “He said, ‘Louise!’ I know him for 10 years and he called me Louise and I find out that’s because his maid’s name is Louise. I was maybe around 30 at the time, so it was a while ago. But what you have to realize is that those microaggressions happen all the time.”
She also talked about wishing that her role in 'How to Get Away With Murder' opened more floodgates for darker-skinned women.
“I know that when I left How to Get Away With Murder that I don’t see a lot of dark skin women in lead roles on TV and not even in streaming services,” she said. “And that ties into ideology and ethos and mentality, and that’s speaking in the abstract. Why aren’t you hiring a dark skin woman when she walks in the room and you say she blows you away? Create space and storytelling for her so when she thrives she’s not thriving despite of her circumstance but thriving because of her circumstance.”
She also talked about being rejected for roles because of race or not being "pretty enough."
“It breaks my heart and it makes me angry. A lot of it is based in race. It really is,” she said in part. “Let’s be honest. If I had my same features and I were five shades lighter, it would just be a little bit different. And if I had blonde hair, blue eyes and even a wide nose, it would be even a little bit different than what it is now. We could talk about colorism, we could talk about race. It pisses me off, and it has broken my heart — on a number of projects, which I won’t name.”