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Viola Davis’s “Finding Me” Charts The Star’s Uncommon Journey

Written by on January 27, 2023

Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis embarks on a new journey as she opens up about her childhood, acting career, sexual abuse and ascent into stardom in her new memoir “Finding Me.”

I’m Joshua X. Miller, production intern here at Vocalo. Throughout the year, Vocalo covers a variety of events, news, music, culture and so much more: including selected book reviews.

Known for her inspirational speeches, breathtaking performances and countless memes, Viola Davis consistently raises the bar for Black excellence. Last year was a big year for the Oscar Award-winning actress as she starred in the new film The Woman King and released her debut book titled Finding Me. However, her memoir introduces readers to a different Viola. A young woman dealing with poverty, racism and colorism; trying to find her place in the world. The book is a memoir of her life, starting from her very poor childhood to her experience at Juilliard and working as both a young actress and a seasoned professional. 

Davis’ first-person narrative makes the reader feel like part of the story and like their on the journey with her. This allows for the book to feel more like a trip down memory lane than a gruesome tale of poverty, racism, and abuse. Even through the hard moments, the book proves to be a story about believing in oneself, defining one’s own self-worth and overcoming obstacles. 

“My biggest discovery was that you can literally re-create your life. You can redefine it. You don’t have to live in the past. I found that not only did I have fight in me, I had love.”

Viola Davis, “Finding Me”

Oprah said in an interview on “Good Morning America” that from the first work and the first paragraph, she knew this book would be part of her book club listings. This is because Davis was not afraid to allow audiences into the dark spaces of her past as she now knows that the past does not define the person. She is able to talk about being bullied every day after school, the abuse and colorism she witnessed as a child and living in poverty most of her life. At times when it seems Davis cannot carry on, there are beautiful moments of clarity she has about her trauma and how it has aided in shaping her. 

Davis extensively talks about making it as a working actor and how nothing really happens overnight. She shares stories of her time at Juilliard, graduating and working in theatre, then getting her break in television. She recalls the role that changed her life and showed her that she could be all the things society had told her she couldn’t.

“With ‘How to Get Away with Murder,’ I became an artist in the truest sense of the word.”

Viola Davis, Finding Me

Poster for ‘How To Get Away With Murder’

Time and time again, Viola Davis proves to be a champion and a force to be reckoned with. After reading “Finding Me,” readers will have a newfound respect for the journey Oscar Award-winning actress Viola Davis has had in her career and her life. Through all the fighting she has always found the strength and passion to continue to act, to love, to live life, and that is the central message of the book. No matter what life throws, have the courage to preserve and use it as a fuel that feeds the fire. 

“May you live long enough to know why you were born.”

Viola Davis, “Finding Me”

If there were one message to the book I would say that your past does not define you, but it can propel you. As Davis takes us through the corridors of mind we see many times how she fought to overcome the harsh reality she was born into, but also how her past forged her into the woman she is now. 

“Finding Me” is a must-read, if not for its impactful themes of perseverance, building self-worth, and the power of forgiveness, then for the journey that Viola Davis is able to take readers on. 

I leave you with a quote from Viola Davis’s 2020 L’oreal Paris commercial.

“And the next time you hesitate before going after something you want; the next time you blush and brush off a compliment; the next time you doubt your place in the world, in the workplace, in your home, or in your own skin; say these words to yourself: I’m Worth it! And I know you will always say it like you mean it. I’m. Worth. It! Because you are. And always will be got that?  “

Viola Davis – Lesson of Self Worth | L’Oréal Paris® Australia & NZ

Audio production and editing, and written introduction by Joshua X. Miller

Transcription by Joshua X. Miller, edited by Morgan Ciocca

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