Viola Davis Lays the Smackdown on Tavis Smiley
I discovered this via Nathaniel Roger's Film Experience site.
Seems professional provacateur Tavis Smiley had Oscar nominees Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer of “The Help” on his show earllier this month. Quickly in the conversation, Smiley brings up his problem with “The Help.” It amounts to “You're playing maids, the same role that Hattie McDaniel played in 1939's 'Gone with the Wind,' and haven't we progressed any further than that in 72 years?” He brings up the Academy honoring Denzel Washington for playing, not Malcolm X or Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, but the thuggish cop of “Training Day.” Why can't more positive, more uplifting portrayals be honored?
Here's Viola Davis' response:
That mindset... is absolutely destroying the black artist. The black artist cannot live in a revisionist place. The black artist can only tell the truth about humanity. Humanity is messy. People are messy. Caucasian actors know that. They understand that. They understand that when you bring a human being to life you show all the flaws as well as the beauty. We, as African American artists, are more concerned with image and message and not execution. Which is why every time you see our images they've been watered down to a point where they are not realistic at all. It's like all of our humanity has been washed out. We as artists cannot be politicians. We as artists can only be truth tellers.
Amen amen amen.
Here's the full interview.