Book Review November 2022: FINDING ME by Viola Davis

As of this posting, Viola Davis is on the verge of being an EGOT artist. All she needs is the Grammy. -JBH

I am a fan of Viola Davis.

Never tell me (or any other Black person!) that Viola Davis is ‘the Black Meryl Streep’.

Don’t cheapen her this way.

I gifted this book to my mother for her birthday earlier this year, and wanted her to read it before I did. I am glad that I did. With candor that only Viola has, she shares her life with us. And I do mean ALL her life! It is the presumption people in the public eye should be willing to share their lives with you with no qualm. Without hesitation, reservation any sense of self preservation. Viola gives us a pound of flesh in this book, and does not want us to look away.

Too often the world looks away from Black women it deems undesirable.

This book drew me to tears. More than once. Viola speaks about her household filled with violence, addiction, and how it almost swallowed her whole! In some interviews, Viola spoke about her childhood, but nothing to the transparency in this book! The artist that she is, she commits to this work! She commits to show us her that we might see (and believe) ourselves!

Frankly speaking: Sis had to endure being hungry, dirty, in a rat infested apartment with an abusive, alcoholic father. And had to go to school the next day in a predominately White school in sometimes not clean clothes. Where she was bullied on top of everything else!

Chile. Whew!

I had to take a break more than once from reading–I felt everything she was saying. Her life experiences are similar to people I grew up with, and…some family members.

Viola’s Oscar win in 2017.

In Finding Me, Viola talks about how school was her outlet, and how she developed the dream of being an actress. In retelling her time in college and attending Julliard, there is a resoluteness to her voice that I recognize as an artist: she had committed to this and had no back to go to! Man! Sis was in an August Wilson play, went to her Julliard audition and slick demanded an answer to get back to work! And they said yes!

Yet, she speaks about not being the right kind of Black for roles, the racism at Julliard, and trying to enjoy hard-fought success with the whole world pulling at you!

And yet she speaks so highly of her husband and partner Julius and the chuckleheads she dealt with before–including a relationship with another actor that lasted 7 years…but went nowhere.

The most powerful part of this book which is a thread throughout is family, forgiveness and the realization that the knowledge of self is on-going.

And acceptance and forgiveness of self is heroic.

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