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The Woman King's Viola Davis on how she fought against being made to feel unwanted

Yong Chavez | TFC News Hollywood

Posted at Oct 04 2022 06:45 PM

Viola Davis and John Boyega. Photo credit: Sony 'The Woman King'
Viola Davis and John Boyega in The Woman King Sony "The Woman King"

The action-filled movie 'The Woman King' is based on the true story of the Agojie, the all-women unit of African warriors in the 1800s who fiercely guarded the Kingdom of Dahomey.

Viola Davis stars as Nanisca, its powerful leader. Her strong performance in the film has put her in talks for awards consideration.

Viola Davis. Photo credit: Sony 'The Woman King'
Sony "The Woman King"

Davis said the struggles of the Agojie warriors resonated with her because she herself had been mistreated.

"They very much mirrored my own struggles in life because they were the unwanted. They were the throw-aways really. The women they couldn't tame, the women they felt were unattractive. That was really important to me because I had to fight to get to that place," Davis shared.

"Because what happens is, a lot of times when you're dark-skinned, you become a throwaway. People tell you from the moment you're born, that you are not as important as your white female counterparts or your brightest-skinned black counterparts. Absolutely, in everything they say and do, even when they don't think they're saying and doing it. And it erodes you. It erodes your confidence. It erodes your ability to think of yourself more expansively, to value yourself until somebody comes along and looks in your eyes. Like my husband did. And say, 'I love you. I think you're beautiful.' And you're like [gasps] and then you see the value of being seen."

Thuso Mbedu. Photo credit: Sony 'The Woman King'
Thuso Mbedu in The Woman King Sony "The Woman King"

Like the Agojie, Davis used her strength and dedication to move forward and be the best that she can be.

Today, she stands as one of Hollywood's most respected actresses and a role model to young black stars like her 'The Woman King' costar Thuso Mbedu.

Mbedu considers it an honor to play a character as strong and smart as Nawi.

"She believes that, you know, there is so much more than what is presented to her as she sees beyond the given circumstance, and this is something that others could learn from," Mbedu said.

Photo credit: Sony 'The Woman King'
Sony "The Woman King"

John Boyega provides support in the film and he said he learned a lot from the warriors depicted in the film as well as his costars.

"These women have an independence and the strength, and the platform that they have to be warriors, to be wherever they want to be is done in such a dynamic way. For me as a character makes me feel like 'Okay, cool. I've got to make sure that my intention is as layered and as interesting to a certain extent.'," Boyega said.

'The Woman King' hits Philippine cinemas on October 5.

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