Viola Davis Speaks Out On Her Experiences With Sexual Harassment: ‘I Have My Own Stories’

Viola Davis is speaking out about the #MeToo movement and her own experiences with sexual harassment.

The 52-year-old actress spoke with PorterEdit about if she would ever share her own #MeToo story.

Photo: Virginie Khateeb
Photo: Virginie Khateeb

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“Oh no, not only do I have my own story, I have my own stories. I am telling you, I have had men touch me in inappropriate ways throughout my childhood,” she said. “I have had men follow me on any given day – and I am saying during the day, at 1 o’clock in the afternoon – and expose themselves to me.”

“I remember one day, when I was 27, waiting at the bus stop in Rhode Island for my niece to get out of pre-school. I was probably there 25 minutes, and I am not lying because I counted, 26 cars drove by with men in them who solicited me, harassed me, yelled at me, verbally abused me. Some of these men had baby seats in the back. And yeah, it makes you feel like crap, it makes you feel like, ‘what would a childhood be if that were removed?’ And it’s hard to separate that stain from who you are. You tattoo it on yourself. Those personal experiences have allowed me to feel compassion for the women who have spoken up,” Davis added.

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In regards to the #MeToo movement backlash, the “How To Get Away With Murder” star says that people are missing the point.

“Hollywood is a microcosm, and however you feel about the movement, it has given women permission to talk about their sexual assault and be a community with each other,” Davis said. “Community, that’s a good word. I know it’s a ‘kumbaya’ word, but you know what, the minute you feel isolated and you’re on your own, is the minute you’re dead.”

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The Oscar-winner also opened up about how her role as Annalise Keating in “How To Get Away With Murder” has changed the game for women of colour, who are usually subject to being typecast in stereotypical roles.

“I’m 52 and darker than a paper bag. Women who look like me are relegated to the back of the bus, auditioning for crackheads and mamas and the person with a hand on her hip who is always described as sassy or soulful,” Davis said. “Annalise Keating has changed the game. I don’t even care if she doesn’t make sense. I love that she’s unrestricted, that every week I actually have to fight [showrunner] Peter Nowalk not to have another love scene. When does that ever happen?”

Photo: Virginie Khateeb
Photo: Virginie Khateeb

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When asked about how her role as Annalise has changed how she feels about herself sexually, Davis adds that it has “cost her something” because rarely in her career – and life, has she been able to explore that part of herself.

“I always felt in playing sexuality you have to look a certain way, to be a certain size, to walk a certain way. Until I realized that what makes people lean in is when they see themselves,” the actress said. “There’s no way I am going to believe that all women who are sexualized are size zero or two, all have straight hair, all look like sex kittens every time they go to bed and want sex from their man, are [all] heterosexual. I am mirroring women. I always say it is not my job to be sexy, it’s my job to be sexual. That’s the difference.”

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