In a sort of a follow up to my piece yesterday regarding Sophie Okonedo’s comments on the lack of opportunities for her as an actress in the U.K. compared to the States (HERE), here’s Viola Davis making a somewhat related comment, saying that television has given her opportunities that are far more interesting and complex, that she hasn’t been able to get in features films.
Yesterday, at the Television Critics Press Tour in Los Angeles, where she appeared to promote her new ABC series, "How to Get Away with Murder," executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, Davis shared: "I have gotten so many wonderful film roles, but I’ve gotten even more film roles where I haven’t been the show. It’s like I’ve been invited to a really fabulous party only to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show.”
She continued on to say that it has been a struggle to get more out of the film roles she has played: “I spent too much time in my career just trying to force writers to write for me in a way that was bold."
And then she personally thanked Pete Norwalk, the creator of her new ABC show she stars in, “for giving (me) a role that allowed (me) to be alternately commanding, personally messy and sexual.”
What Davis said is probably true as well for Kerry Washington, Alfre Woodard and Halle Berry, who currently stars in the new CBS series "Extant."
So is television the preferred and most likely venue for black actresses today? And what would it take for black actresses to start seeing more interesting and complex roles in feature films? More black female filmmakers writing and directing their own projects?