Viola Davis scored an Oscar nomination—her second—for her work in 2011's The Help, in which she played the film’s ostensible main character, Mississippi maid Aibileen Clark. But while a recent New York Times interview saw Davis wax effusively about her affection for director Tate Taylor and her castmates on the film, it also saw her reveal that she regrets her role in the crowd-pleaser, which has often been criticized for giving its white characters equal—or better—billing in the civil rights movement than the black women it’s “actually” about.
“Have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted?” David asked herself during the course of the interview (intended to support her upcoming Steve McQueen thriller, Widows). “I have, and The Help is on that list.”
I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard. I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie.
David also talked about the struggle she often finds herself in, as one of the most prominent black actresses currently working in Hollywood. I.e., “The responsibility of feeling like I am the great black female hope for women of color,” which “has been a real professional challenge. Being that role model and picking up that baton when you’re struggling in your own life has been difficult.”