But in a new interview with Vanity Fair, and within the context of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, she took the time to further elaborate on how the film’s storyline caters primarily to its white viewers.
“Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity,” she said. “They’re invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but…it’s catering to the white audience.”
Davis went on to explain that while the movie might provide some insight into some of the experiences of Black Americans, its structure and the voices it chooses to centralize do not contribute to a greater culture of understanding.
She doesn’t regret working with the cast and writer-director, she says in the interview. Rather, it’s the film’s faux-deep insight into her character, Aibileen, that set it on the wrong path by opting to tell the story through a white perspective.
“The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are,” she said. “Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They’re not moved by who we were.”
Davis took on the role in hopes that she would “pop” into stardom, which she said is an opportunity very few Black women get the chance to attempt. Even so, she said the movie’s hesitance to share a more inclusive and accurate story left her feeling disappointment in her involvement.
“There’s no one who’s not entertained by The Help.,” she says, “But there’s a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn’t ready to [tell the whole truth.]”
“The Help” was a top title on Netflix at the time of the Black Lives Matter protests, but many film critics and writers pointed out that there were many other titles that would bring greater understanding to the issues.
Davis was hesitant to join the large protests in the middle of a pandemic, she told the magazine, but organized a small masked demonstration in Studio City where she held a sign reading “AHMAUD AURBERY.”
For Davis, though, her protests did not begin with the surge in racial justice activism this year. She said her actions have always been an act of protest.
“I feel like my entire life has been a protest. My production company is my protest. Me not wearing a wig at the Oscars in 2012 was my protest. It is a part of my voice, just like introducing myself to you and saying, ‘Hello, my name is Viola Davis.’”