“Stress is my number-one achilles heel,” Viola Davis, wearing a crisp white pantsuit and red lipstick, told me at a L’Oréal Paris event last month, two weeks before Angelenos were asked to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19. “I should be doing meditation, but I’m not; there’s too much going on up here.”
While there was no shortage of topics to discuss with Davis during our interview —like being the face of L’Oréal Paris’ Age Perfect line or her upcoming role playing Michelle Obama — with growing unease about a global pandemic, it was impossible to ignore the elephant in the room: the stress and anxiety we were all feeling.
But, if there were ever a celebrity to take advice from on the subject, it’s Davis. The award-winning actress, who is also a professional motivational speaker, has spent years learning how to cope with internal pressure — and her words are proverbial milk and honey in these unprecedented times.
Keep scrolling for highlights from our sit-down, including how she’s preparing to play FLOTUS in the upcoming First Ladies Showtime series, what being the face of a beauty brand truly means to her, and the epiphany that changed how she manages stress.
People are more stressed out than ever and it’s showing up on our faces. How do you combat stress?
“I am one of those people whose brain never shuts off, so I have to do something physical to knock the stress out of me. Sleep is important, and so is exercise, but how I combat stress most is I take a lot of baths. I put epsom salt and lavender in the tub and just soak. I don’t want my stress to show on my skin, that’s my big thing, so I always use serums before moisturizer. I love the L’Oréal Revitalist moisturizer.”
You are the face of L’Oréal Paris at 54. Do you think that women above 50 are fairly represented in the beauty world?
“No, and I think that’s why Age Perfect is resonating. I grew up with beauty brands that were [represented] by skinny white women. I certainly loved all those women, like Twiggy, but I couldn’t have been any further from them. L’Oréal is giving a message that is so deep and meaningful of a woman’s worth. Aging gets a bad rap in general, perhaps because people think you’re closer to death, don’t look as good, or are not as viable, when in fact, everything gets better. There is honest pressure, then there is the pressure that’s a lie — and most pressure is a lie.”
What kind of pressures do you consider lies?
“The ultimate image of perfectionism is money, youth, and beauty, and when you get to a certain age, you begin to understand that it’s a lie. So what happens next is this extraordinary thing where all the other values, like wisdom and authenticity, take over and you cannot help but feel less anxiety — it just happens! One day you just wake up and say, ‘I feel great!’ You cannot put a price tag on wisdom, on getting to the point in your life where you feel worth it, on understanding the power of no.”
What advice would you give to young people who are trying to feel less stressed?
“I was always in internal strife in my 20s — always. It was every single day and I didn’t know how to get out of it. People don’t value the internal, but that’s where all the value lies.”
How did you beat those feelings of daily turmoil?
“Becoming a mother, then my career taking off and feeling like, ‘I did it! I’m done! I am successful!’ — but then feeling tired, disillusioned, and not happy. Then one day, I was sitting next to a life strategist at a party and he said, ‘Viola, that’s not the final step; the final step is living a life of significance.’ He said that when the last person who has a memory of you dies, that’s when you’ll truly be dead. So that made me think, What are you leaving behind? What’s bigger than putting on the perfect shade of lipstick? What’s bigger than your brand and your net worth? I realized that I became worthy on August 11, 1965 — the day I was born. Realizing this sort of blows a hole in everything that the world tells you value is.”
You just signed on to executive produce and star in First Ladies as Michelle Obama. How are you feeling?
“I talk about worth and then I’m like, ‘Oh shit!” I feel terrified!'”
What are you doing to get into the role?
“I started looking at interviews and started reading her book, and then, of course, I am talking to my makeup artist and hairstylist. I am one of those people who will work work work then I get scared and fall apart… and eat. And then I’ll work work work and then fall apart again.”
Have you talked to Michelle about the role? Do you feel like you need to get her blessing?
“I have met Michelle Obama twice and we’re certainly representing her beautifully. There is something about her… she’s perfect. I haven’t had the real interview, which is the getting in there, getting to know her, sitting down and really hearing her feedback. I have to do it before I start, but I am terrified. I am, but you know what? I am not afraid to fail.”
Hello everyone! I wanted to take a moment to address what is happening in our world. Due to the Covid-19 situation I have had some major changes happening in my life to provide safety for my family and the other individuals around me. I have moved to a working from home environment, both of my daughters are home with me full-time, and my schooling has moved to online. Having said that I want to encourage each of you to do the same … take time to consider the state of our world and how YOU can help slow down the spread of this awful illness.
Tomorrow night How to Get Away With Murder is back for the rest of it’s final season. Until then watch this goodbye feature … I know I am going to miss this series.
People.com shared this article where Viola speaks about her involvement with L’Oréal Paris and the new line of Age Perfect Makeup that they have launched. It is evident how proud Viola is of her involvement with L’Oréal Paris.
The face of L’Oréal Paris’ new Age Perfect makeup collection talks learning to love every part of herself from the inside and out
As a woman in her 50s, Viola Davis‘ approach to beauty has completely changed.
“Now, I don’t want to look like anyone other than me,” the How to Get Away with Murder star, 54, tells PEOPLE at the L.A. launch of L’Oréal Paris’ new Age Perfect Makeup collection. “That was a big thing in my twenties especially.”
When she was younger, Davis says she dreamed of looking like one super-famous star before becoming truly confident with her own unique beauty. “I wanted to look like Oprah, especially when she went to the Oscars for The Color Purple. I thought she was the most beautiful,” the actress reveals.
“I never told her that. Literally, Oprah went to one of my weddings and I never had the guts to say, ‘Oprah, I was always trying to look like you!’” Davis adds.
But now Davis highlights the features that make her who she is using makeup. “I embracing my nose and my lips. It’s like all of a sudden I was like, ‘Viola, that’s what your lips always looked like? Why’d you have a problem with that?’ I love wearing red lipstick, which took me a long time, because I think my lips are fabulous,” she says.
As for her complexion, it’s always been a challenge for Davis to find the right foundation and concealer for her skin tone. “[You don’t want one] that is too ashy or too dark,” she explains. But then as she got older, it became even more difficult to land on a formula that also “feels like a part of your skin” so you “don’t feel like it’s wearing you.”
Luckily, Davis has found a winner in the new L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Foundation Serum with SPF 50, which was designed to not settle in fine lines and leave a cakey finish — a common concern for women over 50 (the entire Age Perfect cosmetics range targets mature customers’ specific needs).
“I feel so seen and valued with this collection for older women,” the L’Oréal Paris brand ambassador says. “You’re still very much beautiful in that way.”
Still, Davis isn’t ashamed to admit that it isn’t easy to see herself physically getting older. “I’m no going to lie, it is harder to see the jowls and the eyes,” she says. “But the other thing happens where you begin to value life and time, especially time, because you feel like you’re running out of it.”
Because of that, Davis has grown to appreciate the signs of aging she has started to see on her body. “You put the fine lines in their place and they become sort of like survivor scars. I recently saw a photo of myself where I noticed some jowls. But it’s interesting how I didn’t stop there. I said, ‘Oh, but my skin looks really nice in that picture,’” she says.
Davis continues: “When I was younger, I worried about how pretty someone else thought I was. Now, I see the whole picture.”
Check out the rest of the beautiful photos from this shoot!
Viola & Helen Mirren joined L’Oréal Paris in celebrating the launch of their new Age Perfect Cosmetics in Beverly Hills … both ladies are perfect examples of classic beauty!
Viola recently attended the premiere of her film Troop Zero.
The Hollywood Reporter shares this exciting casting news!
Tiffany Haddish, ‘When They See Us’ stars Asante Blackk and Jharrel Jerome and ‘SNL’ alum Jay Pharoah will also be part of the network’s second ‘Live in Front of a Studio Audience’ special.
ABC has lined up a pair of Emmy winners to star in its re-creation of Good Times for the second Live in Front of a Studio Audience special.
How to Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Andre Braugher will head the cast for the Good Times episode. Tiffany Haddish, When They See Us stars Asante Blackk and Jharrel Jerome, Saturday Night Live alum Jay Pharoah and Corinne Foxx round out the ensemble.
Additionally, Black-ish star Anthony Anderson and R&B legend Patti LaBelle will perform the show’s theme song during the special.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience, set to air Dec. 18 on ABC, will re-create episodes of Norman Lear’s All in the Family and Good Times. It follows a successful May staging of episodes of All in the Family and The Jeffersons, which drew better than 10 million viewers for its first airing and grew to more than 12 million with delayed viewing.
Davis and Braugher will play Florida and James Evans, parents of the working-class Chicago family at the center of Good Times (Esther Rolle and John Amos played the parts in the series, which ran from 1974 to 1979). Pharoah will play eldest son J.J. (Jimmie Walker in the original), known for his “Dy-no-mite!” catchphrase. Foxx and Blackk will play kids Thelma and Michael Evans (Bernnadette Stanis and Ralph Carter in the series), and Haddish will play neighbor Wilona Woods, originally played by Ja’net Dubois. Jerome’s role is being kept under wraps.
Foxx’s dad, Jamie Foxx, played George Jefferson in The Jeffersons episode in May.
For All in the Family, Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Ellie Kemper and Ike Barinholtz will reprise their roles from the May special as, respectively, Archie and Edith Bunker, their daughter Gloria and her husband, Mike “Meathead” Stivic. Kevin Bacon, Jesse Eisenberg and Justina Machado will also star.
Live in Front of a Studio Audience comes from Kimmelot, ACT III Productions, Gary Sanchez Productions, D’Arconville, Simpson Street and Sony Pictures Television. Norman Lear, Jimmy Kimmel, Brent Miller, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell, Justin Theroux and Jim Burrows will executive produce, with Pam Fryman and Andy Fisher set to direct.
The Hollywood Reporter shared some of the comments that Viola shared in relation to Martin Scorsese said about superhero films.
The actress spoke on topics ranging from storytelling to inclusion at a celebratory event, during she received the Rome Film Fest’s lifetime achievement award.
Viola Davis closed out the Rome Film Festival on Saturday night at a special event where she was honored with the fest’s lifetime achievement award.
The actress, who discussed her work at a Close Encounter talk with festival head Antonio Monda, covered a wide range of topics, from her groundbreaking role as Annalise Keating on How to Get Away With Murder to her tough audition for the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences opposite Denzel Washington. Davis not only won the role, but later received an Academy Award for the 2016 film adaptation.
Earlier in the week, Martin Scorsese was in Rome to promote The Irishman and repeated his widely publicized comments that superhero films are not real cinema. Davis, who starred in the DC Comics film Suicide Squad and will reprise her role as intelligence officer Amanda Waller in the upcoming sequel, was asked her opinion on the debate. “I do like a good Marvel movie. I do like a good DC Comics movie,” she said.
Davis went on to explain that what she loves about superhero films is their ability to capture and expand the imagination. “Albert Einstein said that imagination is more valuable than knowledge. If I did not have my imagination, I would still be poor Viola living in Central Falls, Rhode Island, who is not considered attractive or whatever,” said the actress. “My imagination defined me. I could escape into a world that’s infinite, a world that I could create on my own, a world where I could redefine myself. That’s where art lives.”
She continued: “Art lives in that world of imagination. It’s a playground there. It’s God’s playground. It’s not up to anyone to say what deserves to be there and what doesn’t deserve to be there. It’s anything that you want to be in that place can live there. And that is why we have some of the greatest painters, some of the greatest actors, some of the greatest writers, and that’s why we live. So I do believe that there’s a place for all of it.”
Davis did qualify that she loves all of Scorsese’s films. “I think he was voicing his opinion. I think it’s valid,” she said. “Everyone had a place, an opinion. But I like a good Marvel movie.”
Monda also asked Davis if she thought the Film Academy was doing enough for women and diversity by adding more members to its ranks. “It’s a reduction to answer the #MeToo or diversity inclusion issue by relegating it to just the Academy. Everything is white … except for the NBA and the NFL,” she responded, to much audience applause.
“Everything is white — studio heads, executives, films,” continued Davis. “How many films do we have this year with people of color being a part of the conversation? Everything. As many television shows as we have on the air, once me, Taraji P. Henson and Kerry Washington, once we leave TV — how many black women do we have even leading television shows?”
“Critics are white, usually male,” she added. “If you’re just looking at the Academy, you’re not looking far enough.”
Davis said that the answer starts with the filmmaking process, looking at what types of stories are greenlit and what types of actors are cast.
“Even if 93 percent of Academy members are people of color, but only one film has been made that year with people of color, then what good is it? We want to work and we want to do great films that reflect who we are. We want to have an expansiveness of storytelling,” said the actress. “We want to get paid the same way that white actors get paid, because we don’t. Things are changing, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
Related Davis, “I tell my daughter all the time, just because we are 12.5 percent of the population, doesn’t mean we just want 12.5 percent of the pie. When I started out as an actor, I wanted it all. I want the world. I don’t want to just stay in my lane.”
Viola received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Rome Film Festival this past weekend. She attended with Julius and wore an elegant white sleeveless gown with an X-shaped panel adorned with crystals across her waist that was designed by Michael Kors.
Viola Davis Online > 2019 > October 26 | Rome Film Festival – Lifetime Achievement Award
Viola Davis Online > 2019 > October 26 | Rome Film Festival – Lifetime Achievement Award – Master Class & Ceremony
This past weekend Viola was honored at the Rome Film Festival. Here is an interview that she did while walking the red carpet with Mediatime Network.