Viola Davis says a director she’d known for 10 years called her by his maid’s name

Appearing at Cannes film festival, the actor used the incident as an example of the micro-agressions she experiences ‘all the time’

Tom Murray
Thursday 19 May 2022 15:25
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Viola Davis has said that a director she’d known for years once called her by his maid’s name.

The First Lady star was speaking about Black representation in Hollywood during a panel at Cannes film festival when she recalled the incident.

The 56-year-old used it as an example of the micro-agressions Black actors experience “all the time” in the film industry.

“I had a director who did that to me,” she said, per Variety. He said, ‘Louise!’ I knew him for 10 years and he called me Louise and I find out that it’s because his maid’s name is Louise.”

She continued: “I was maybe around 30 at the time, so it was a while ago. But what you have to realize is that those micro-aggressions happen all the time.”

Davis did not name the director in question.

The actor recently won an Emmy for her leading role in Shonda Rhimes’ How to Get Away With Murder, but said the role has not necessarily broken through systemic prejudice against dark-skinned Black actors.

“I know that when I left How to Get Away With Murder that I don’t see a lot of dark skin women in lead roles on TV and not even in streaming services,” Davis said.

Viola Davis

“And that ties into ideology and ethos and mentality... Why aren’t you hiring a dark skin woman when she walks in the room and you say she blows you away?”

Davis has long been vocal about the racial abuse and prejudice she’s been subject to in her life.

In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, Davis revealed that she had to sprint home from school as a child, because a group of young boys would chase her and throw rocks while shouting racist abuse.

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