Viola Davis on Battling Low Self-Esteem & a Mid-Life Crisis — How She Learned to Let Love In

It seems like just yesterday when Viola Davis received her first Oscar nomination in 2009 for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” in the film Doubt (2008). Three years later, she won “Best Actress” for “The Help.”

She humbly walked on the stage at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards (January 12, 2012), to deliver an emotional speech about discovering purpose and why she decided to pursue acting: “

You know they say that the two most important days in a person’s life is the day you were born and the day you discover why you were born. I absolutely knew I wanted to be an actor because I wanted to be somebody. I wanted to dream big and make a mark somehow, and that’s something absolutely that Aibileen was not afforded.”

In an interview with Oprah that was aired on The OWN Network (Feb. 2012), she discussed the behind-the-scenes struggles.

Viola Davis in ‘Doubt’ Credit: Miramax Films

Despite her accomplishments, Davis said that she was going through a horrible mid-life crisis during the filming of “Doubt.” “I didn’t know that success felt that way. I imagined it to be more fulfilling. I didn’t think that it would be as isolating, which it is because not everyone is rooting for you.”

She said that coming to the mid-point of her life caused her to restructure her idea of happiness and reconsider what feeds her soul:

There’s a certain amount of disillusion that comes with that…all the things that you thought defined success and could fill you up has been defined by other people and not so much by yourself…You’re right at the middle part of your life and so you have to think, okay Viola, really, what would make you happy? And that’s really frightening because the things that could make you happy may not look good to other people.”

On her father passing away:

“When my father was passing…it was really a short period of time…that started the ball rolling because you don’t have time. You’re on this earth for a dash of time really and that’s it…I felt like I don’t have any time to stay up all night worrying about what someone who doesn’t love me has to say about me.

And here’s a whole slew of people who love me that i’m devaluing. I’m not even spending any time with them — you know, and my mortality is staring me in the face.” – Viola Davis in an interview with Oprah, OWN Network 


Viola Davis with her husband Julius (vow renewal) Credit: Viola Davis (Instagram)

Davis also spoke about her marriage with her husband Julius. They’ve been together since 2003 and she says that she almost missed the chance to be with him:

“I didn’t think that I could make a life with anyone. I had been an artist for my entire life and I said, okay if he is a healthy man, then I have to come to the plate with something…At the time, I came to Los Angeles from New York and I said I don’t own anything, I have bad credit and i’m a bad driver…it took me six weeks…so I finally called him and i’m telling you, we’ve been together ever since.”

Her past experiences caused her to have a hard time opening up to Julius:I made some really bad choices in terms of relationships. I just didn’t know how to receive love and goodness.” Slowly but surely, she realized that she had to allow herself to trust him and accept it completely. 

Check out the full interview and additional clips on OWN Network’s Youtube Channel


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