Just when we thought we couldn’t have enough reasons to love Viola Davis more, the two-time Oscar nominated listed in Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012, actress goes and inspires us again. The How to Get Away with Murder actress spoke as an honoree at the Variety Power Of Women event for Hollywood luminaries and revealed how she grew up in abject poverty in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
“I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn’t know where the next meal was coming from,” the Tony Award winner revealed, “And I did everything to get food. I’ve stolen for food, I’ve jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food, I have befriended people in the neighborhood who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food. And I sacrificed a childhood for food… and grew up in immense shame.”
Daughter of a horse trainer and a maid and the second youngest of six children, she attended Central Falls High School, where she said many children struggle to ‘navigate their way through the darkness’ of poverty and few prospects.
While attending high school, Viola said that “thanks to being a geek,” she was able to land a spot to get an education at Rhode Island College, leading her to her acting career today.
“Everyone should grow up and have a chance at the American dream,’ she said tonight,” the 49-year-old actress continued, “The stain in this country is that one out of every five children in this country are living in households that are food-poor. And of all the elementary school teachers out there they say three out of every five kids in their class come to school hungry. In the richest country in the world.”
Davis then thanked her colleagues and supporters for the chance to “stand up in front of so many people, at the age of 49, and share my testimony and begin the process of healing.”
Other women honoured at Other at the Variety Power of Women luncheon for their humanitarian efforts were Jane Fonda, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lopez.