Viola Davis wants to put her spotlight on something else.
The Oscar-nominated actress is teaming up with Vaseline for the Healing Project, a partnership with Direct Relief that aims to supply dermatological care and medical supplies to people living in poverty or crisis areas.
For Davis, who grew up extremely poor in Central Falls, Rhode Island, the issue is personal.
“I always feel like I’m motivated by the child in me that lived in poverty,” Davis tells Mashable.
There was only one health clinic in the area, Davis says. When it was full, or out of supplies, she and her siblings would have to wait in the nearby emergency room, waiting for five or six hours to get help.
“Nobody considers you when you’re poor,” she says. “You’re made invisible.”
Davis sat down with Mashable to chat about her charity work — she would love it if you donated or built a relief kit here — and acting work, as well as everything from where she keeps all her trophies to her struggle with equal pay.
The SAGs, that was an amazing night. Uzo Aduba won, Idris Elba won, so many other people of color won… Do you see that as the future of awards shows?
There’s no limit that I want to put on my life, on myself. I think that’s the future of where we want to see Hollywood. And that’s diversity. That’s what we’re waiting for. However you see Caucasian actors is how you should see actors of color.
I have a colleague who’s writing about equal pay. Is that something you’ve tackled a lot, or had to deal with?
I have to be honest with you. I believe in equal pay, first of all. I’m sorry, if a woman does the same job as a man, she should be paid the same amount of money. She just should. That’s just the way the world should work. What are you telling your daughter when she grows up? ‘You’ve got to just understand that you’re a girl. You have a vagina, so that’s not as valuable.’ What are you telling her?
But at the same time, with me as an actress of color, I have to say to probably contradict myself, that’s not something I think about on a daily basis. Because the struggle for us as women of color is just to be seen the same as our white female counterparts.
Forget the men! We’re not even in that realm yet. And I have to say there are enough people out there, I do believe this, that run studios, that are involved with studios and I think that they’ll get it. I really do. They will, they’ll get it.
That’s a fair point, too, that as an actress of color, the pay isn’t even equal to white actresses.
Yeah. It’s like talking to someone who lives in poverty! ‘You don’t want that Bentley?’ They’re like ‘Shoot, I’m just trying to get bus fare money.’