Viola Davis just keeps on making history.
Her portrayal of Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder earned her the 2015 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – the first black woman ever to do so.
She’s just the second black woman (Whoopi Goldberg) to win an Emmy, an Oscar and a Tony.
Davis has spent decades cementing her status as one of Hollywood’s best – and now she’s offering advice to other young black actresses who are figuring out how to make an impact on the industry.
“The only thing you can rely on is the love of your craft, so know how to do it to the best of your ability,” she told theGrio.com. “Everything else in this business is up in the air. People don’t even realize that less than 1 percent [in this business] make $50,000 or more. People have a lot of misconceptions — you see us at award shows, but we really only represent .10000 percent of the profession.”
Davis said she wants women to be less concerned about the ‘look’ of what many think it means to be a celebrity.
“Don’t negate you,” she says. “Don’t come here trying to be someone else. People land in LAX or Burbank and all of a sudden they want Gabrielle Union hair, Kim Kardashian nose, or wonder ‘Where do I get the best eyebrows?’ or ‘Where do I get the best person to do nails?’ And they negate the uniqueness about them. Not even realizing that that’s the very thing they’re looking for in that audition room.”
The 52-year-old star reinforces the need for young actresses to excel at the craft.
“People don’t understand, you’re not going to be young forever,” she says. “That same cuteness, that worked when you’re 22 is not going to work when you’re 25. So, learning your craft and embracing what is uniquely you is what I tell people.”
At the Los Angeles launch for Vaseline’s Cocoa Radiant Body Butter, (Davis serves as as brand ambassador) she also tells TheGrio that there are also many young actresses that she currently admires.
“They’re all so beautiful and uniquely themselves,” she emphasized. “But there are tons out there and they know exactly who they are. Aja Naomi King, who I’ve worked with, that’s my sweetheart, my baby. Lupita N’ongo, and Tessa Thompson who is great. Also, Edwina Findley Dickerson.”
She added, “There’s a lot of them. They are bold, they are taking no prisoners. I love it.”