Viola Davis on why she’s ‘done’ pretending sexual assault in Hollywood is ‘news’
Since the New York Times published a report detailing decades of sexual assault and harassment allegations from countless women in Hollywood against Harvey Weinstein, more women and men have come forward with their own accounts of abuse they’ve suffered in the entertainment industry.
The list of actresses recounting disturbing experiences with the movie mogul include some of the most powerful and successful individuals in the business. Academy Award-winning star Lupita Nyong’o is, so far, the only black woman to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual assault. In a New York Times op-ed, Nyong’o revealed an incident that occurred while she was a student at the Yale School of Drama in 2011.
She wrote, “Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage. I thought he was joking at first. He was not.”
Out of 70-plus accusers, Nyong’o is the only actress whose claim Weinstein has reportedly disputed. The internet certainly hasn’t held back on theories that it is because she is a black woman. Fellow actress Viola Davis understands this sentiment all too well.
The How to Get Away With Murder star penned a powerful statement for Variety, calling out Weinstein for treating bodies like “spoils of war.” She wrote, “To the predators.. Weinstein, the stranger, the relative, the boyfriend…. I say to you, ‘You can choose your sin but you don’t get to choose the consequences.’ To the victims…. I see you. I believe you… and I’m listening.”
While many people in the spotlight would be afraid to weigh in on the topic, worrying it could damage their careers, Davis is using her voice without fear.
In a candid interview with Yahoo Lifestyle at the L.A. launch for Vaseline’s Cocoa Radiant Body Butter, the brand ambassador said that she’s “done” pretending that sexual assault in Hollywood is “news.” Davis said, “I’m sorry, sexual assault has affected women since the beginning of time. It just has. We know that. We sit with our girlfriends, we talk, we get something to drink, and everyone shares their story. Most women in my life, almost all of them, have been sexually assaulted. That’s just truth. I’m not saying anything that’s news.”
She continued, “So I’m done with it! I really am. I’m done pretending. Done looking at all these women who lead their lives with body dysmorphic issues, suicide, depression, drug addiction, and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, what’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with them?’ And it’s rooted in that silence of sexual assault and rape.”
While expressing immense gratitude for her career and “living out” her “dream,” Davis said there’s a “difference being A-list, 52-year-old black actress and A-list white actress.” Because of this, she feels compelled to “out” predators because she isn’t “falling from a really high space.”
She explained, “It’s not like I’m going to headline the next Spider-Man movie. I’m not rolling around in bed with Tom Cruise, so I’m not going to lose a $20 million endorsement and a $50 million beauty campaign. That’s just not my career.”
For Davis, this is an opportunity to make an impact and not live a life in which she chose silence instead. “We gotta throw each other a rope every once in a while,” she said. “I understand you’re in fear of losing your career and all of that stuff, but at some point there’s something that’s gotta be bigger than you.”