Viola Davis has received both awards and critical acclaim for playing Annalise Keating on the ABC drama “How to Get Away with Murder,” created by Shonda Rhimes. But there was a time that she thought her days in TV were over for a few reasons.
For one, the actress shot a number of pilots that were never turned into TV shows, and the one that was picked up forced her to maintain a grueling work schedule.
“I decided to never do TV ever again after I did nine failed TV pilots,” said Davis at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, California, on November 19.
But the video just went viral on Twitter over the Thanksgiving weekend.
“The last one I did, I worked an average of 21-hour days, and I had to drive 53 miles one way to work, El Segundo Studios,” she continued. “So I was like ‘F–k no, [I’m not doing that again].’”
“How to Get Away with Murder” has been on air since 2014, and although Davis was an A-list actress before it began, the show turned her into a household name, as TV often does.
But, ironically, the role wasn’t written for a Black woman, and the producers didn’t just hand Davis the part, despite her impressive résumé.
“[The role] was not written for an African-American specifically, so I think they went out to Diane Lane, Jennifer Connelly, and they wanted to screen test me,” she explained.
“The network wanted to screen test me, but my manager resisted, and I was a little resistant, because I said sexualized, sociopathic. I mean, I’m used to wearing aprons and holding babies.”
But the Oscar winner later agreed to take the part of Annalise on one condition: That she got to be a “real woman” on the show.
Plus, she had another big want, which had to do with wearing wigs.
“I said if I take off my wig, then you have to deal with that sh– that you see underneath it,” Davis explained. “That you have to write that. … You have to write a real woman.”
In the comments section, a lot of folks said they found Davis’ candor refreshing and it made them like her even more.
“Yesss to her realness,” someone wrote.
“The cussing alone is worth the two minutes, the lesson is timeless,” another person followed.
“Apparently, Viola Davis is not only an American treasure and a thespian supreme…. she has a magnificent candor that is almost ethereal,” another one of her fans wrote. “I love watching her interviews. Her authenticity is palatable.”