Viola Davis recalled a microaggression she experienced decades ago as she discussed how race has impacted her Hollywood career.
Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival for a powerful Women In Motion conversation on Thursday, the Oscar-winning actor said an unnamed director once referred to her by his maid’s name. “And I’d known him for like, 10 years,” she said. “And he called me Louise, and I found out it was because his maid’s name was Louise.”
“I was maybe around 30 at the time, so it was a while ago. But what you have to realise is that those microaggressions happen all the time,” she explained.
The actor also spoke about times she’d been told she wasn’t “pretty enough” for certain roles. “It breaks my heart, and it makes me angry,” she said. “For many reasons. A lot of it is based in race. It really is. Because let’s be honest; if I had my same features and I were five shades lighter, it would just be a little bit different.”
Viola recently starred as Michelle Obama in The First Lady, which wraps up its 10-episode season in June, and also recently released her memoir, Finding Me.
She’ll also star in The Woman King, a historical epic inspired by true events in the Dahomey kingdom, a former West African state in what is now Benin.