Viola Davis: Most Roles Offered To Black Actresses Are “Mammy-Ish”

Most Roles Offered To Black Actresses Are “Mammy-Ish”
Viola Davis In The Help

AFRICANGLOBE – Viola Davis says she’s tired of being offered roles that she describes as “downtrodden” or “mammy-ish.”

In an interview with The New York Times Magazine, the How to Get Away with Murder star says there simply aren’t enough meaty roles being offered to Black women in Hollywood — and, she adds, those given to Halle Berry and her Shondaland counterpart, Scandal’s Kerry Washington, don’t count.

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“I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this … a woman of color, of a certain age and a certain hue,” Davis, 49, tells the Times. “And you can’t even mention Halle Berry or Kerry Washington [who have much lighter skin].”

Davis top-lines Murder as Annalise Keating, a lawyer and law professor whose students become involved with an actual murder investigation on their college campus. She also has a rather provocative sex scene in the pilot episode. “It’s what I’ve had my eye on for so long,” she said. “It’s time for people to see us, people of color, for what we really are: complicated.”

Davis’ previous film credits include Doubt and The Help, both of which earned her Oscar nominations.

“Even when I get the fried-chicken special of the day, I have to dig into it like it’s filet mignon,” she says. “I always got the phone call that said: ‘I have a great project for you.’ … Then I get the script, and I have a role that lasts for a page or two.”

She adds: “I have been given a lot of roles that are downtrodden, mammy-ish. A lot of lawyers or doctors who have names but absolutely no lives. You’re going to get your three or four scenes, you’re not going to be able to show what you can do. You’re going to get your little bitty paycheck, and then you’re going to be hungry for your next role, which is going to be absolutely the same. That’s the truth.”

How to Get Away with Murder premieres Thursday, Sept. 25 at 10/9c on ABC. What do you think of Davis’ comments?


By: Liz Raftery


The Easy Life of Cinema Slaves – THEBLACKCHANNEL.NET


  1. The comments on this thread is a reflection of our mentality as a race of people. If she did create her own, you crab Negros wouldn’t support it. Prime example is Tyler Perry. He created his own and is always slammed to the dirt. He is employing hundreds of people and you sit back and complain. That is all some blacks is good for is bitching.

  2. Stop begging or asking White Supremacist in Hollywood and the Media to help us. We must understand that is why they are there is to not help us at all ! They know the power of the media and how to use it to build and destroy images of people. She a wonderful actress so I want to see more real great roles from her and not racist Hollywood junk. IT IS TIME TO DO FOR SELF POINT BLANK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. This integrationist mentality must go. Hollywood is an exclusionary insular white owned industry and has been for one hundred years. They have no obligation to black people. To even complain about racist roles offered to us is an exercise in futility at this point. Although it does seem like since Obama’s election in 2008, Hollywood has been regressing back to how blacks were portrayed in films prior to the 1960s, men as ‘boys’ to the white hero and women as nannies to white women and wenches to white men, Hollywood is nothing but the entertainment wing of the system of racism/white supremacy that we are all subject to. We need our own studios and our own crews to tell our own stories and create jobs for ourselves alone. Stop complaining about white people behaving like white people. Read this book and learn what we need to do to put our visions on our own screens in our own theaters.

  4. how are we supposed to do that when literally everything African Americas worked for created and made is either taken as ghetto not good enough or white Americas favorite…..they take gentrify it, bastardize it or repackage it as their own and give it a white face. look at rock and roll look at hip hop look at all the things we onced had pride to claim as our own and now it’s a shadow of it’s former self

  5. last time us a blacks made a network solely for ourselves it was good in the beginning but then whites got a wind of it started complaining. Realized bitching wouldn’t help bring it down. then decided to buy BET out and bastardize it and twist it to show nothing but negative stereotypes of blacks

  6. Of course Alexander Ortiz she can but in the 21st century the slave mentality of hoping non blacks portray Black people in positive light is a joke. Hispanics aren’t waiting, Indians didn’t and even Nigerians are taken control of their own destiny. Black people like Davis are the problem and if they want better roles than do what all others do and make them.

  7. you can still be married to someone who isn’t your race and still champion positive roles for yourself don’t know what how that instantly negates her struggle or grievances

  8. im tired of black folks complaining when there are millionaires and billionaires in the entertainment industry. why cant we create our own institutions? DAMN

  9. So quit complaining and create your own production co and make what you want to see. The white power structure is never going to show Black people in a positive light. Create your own vision of Black life.