Viola Davis on Hollywood’s treatment of Black talent: ‘We’re the leftovers’

Davis recently appeared on Variety's 'Awards Circuit Podcast'

Weeks ahead of her big night at this year’s Oscars ceremony, Viola Davis opened up about Hollywood’s treatment of Black talent, explaining, “We’re the leftovers.”

Fresh off her major SAG Awards win, the acclaimed actress is in full awards season mode as she continues to collect accolades for her performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Appearing on Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast, Davis opened up about her latest role and Hollywood’s treatment of Black talent at large.

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BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 03: Viola Davis joins LOréal Paris to celebrate the launch of Age Perfect Cosmetics on March 03, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for L’Oréal Paris )

Read More: Viola Davis makes history with SAG Award win for ‘Ma Rainey’

Davis shared on the podcast, “It’s so hard to get films made that don’t fit a certain box of how they see us. Inclusivity cannot be a hashtag. You’ve got to write roles for people of color that are culturally specific – that is just as thought out as our white counterparts’ roles, to get to the point of excellence, so that we can be considered for awards. But a lot of time with inclusivity, it’s a second thought. We’re the leftovers.”

While Davis holds multiple records as a Black woman in the acting world, she told the podcast it can feel like a “limited honor.” She explained, “The only reason I’m breaking records is that no one has been recognized. That ‘honor’ is a sort of limited honor.

The problem is with the moviemaking business itself, not the awards. You cannot nominate anyone for awards if there are no films being made.”

Variety also details her recent roundtable discussion in which Davis dived into how important the creation of roles is for Black talent.

She shared, “I always say I do the best I can with what I’ve been given. If you get a role that’s half-baked, half-explored, no understanding of that person’s psychology, pathology, Blackness, and put it even into the hands of someone who’s excellent, who’s carrying it over the finish line, you’re not going to be seen.”

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UNSPECIFIED LOCATION – MARCH 27: In this screengrab, Viola Davis, winner of Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture categories speaks at the 52nd NAACP Image Awards Virtual Press Conference on March 27, 2021 in Various Cities. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)

Read More: Viola Davis wins two NAACP Image awards for final season of ‘HTGAWM,’ ‘Ma Rainey’

She continued, “That’s because you have white critics who don’t understand you, a white audience that many don’t even have Black or Brown friends, or any kind of friends – so they don’t understand you unless it’s out of a history book.”

As theGrio previously reported, Davis recently made history as the first Black woman to win Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role twice at the SAG Awards. Watch her heartwarming speech below:

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