Finding Me (2022) is rich with Viola Davis’s experience not just in the acting industry, but also in trauma, abuse, poverty, and struggle. She obviously did not make it to the top without having earned it through grit.
Viola remains resolved that she is not her success. As she said in her book, “Success is absolutely wonderful, but it’s not who you are. Who you are is measured by something way more abstract and emotional, ethereal, than outward success.” This is a reminder that anyone entering chasing after success needs to have a firm foundation and understanding of who they are as persons.
For Viola, this meant addressing her inner battles and detaching from family drama. As she grew older, she learned to establish boundaries and how to say “no” to family members. For example, when she started earning from her acting career, her family members accepted portions of her generosity until it became a habit and then an obligation on Viola’s part. Eventually, as Viola became more successful, her family members also started asking for more such as a house or a car. When it became too toxic for her, Viola cut them off and said “no.”
Setting boundaries is important not only in cutting off toxic family members but as well as in her acting career as it helped her set quality work ethics to be respected and followed by others. As an actress, she held the same standard of addressing inner battles and having a strong foundation. She believes that being an actor means being an observer of life. This meant a truly great actor observes real people, not other actors. This way, they understand a character to understand themselves better. It’s these techniques and more that made Viola Davis the multi-award-winning actress that she is now.
What readers will greatly learn from Viola’s memoir is that a person’s success is just the tip of the iceberg. The memoir is not just about the success of an award-winning actress; it includes her past, present, and future as an individual who has come a long way to be herself and to become another person through acting. It contains stories of pain, trauma, healing, and fighting for a career and a future she wasn’t even sure existed for her and her race. As if the acting industry was not difficult enough to perpetrate, Viola Davis had to deal with problems with her race, feminity, and past. Indeed, Viola’s vulnerability in her younger years made her a strong and independent Black woman now who is dominating the film industry.
About the Author
Viola Davis is a prominent American actress and producer. Exclusively, she is the only Black actor to have achieved the “triple crown” of acting by winning an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony for her work in film, television, and theater, respectively. She has also won a Grammy Award in 2023 for the best audiobook, narration, and storytelling recording for Finding Me (2022). In 2020, she was ranked ninth on the New York Times’ list of greatest actors of the 21st century. Although she started acting since 1992, her film breakthrough happened in when she received her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as a troubled mother in Doubt (2008). Since then, she played more famously known and challenging roles such as, among many others, a 1960s housemaid in The Help (2011), lawyer Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder (2014-2020), and more recently, a general in The Woman King (2022).