By Anita Tai.

Viola Davis and Jennifer Lawrence are opening up about the dark side of being in the public eye.

The Oscar-winning actresses have both seen massive success with Davis recently wowing audiences with her performance as a powerful leader in “The Woman King” and Lawrence showing the fragility of a traumatized veteran in “Causeway”.

With the success, however, has also come media attention and eyeballs glued on all of their moves in the industry.

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“I’ve been doing this since I was so young. When ‘Hunger Games’ was out, I couldn’t really be an observer of life because everybody was observing me. I could feel my craft suffering,” recalled Lawrence to Variety. “And I didn’t know how to fix it. I was scrambling, trying to fix it by saying yes to this movie and then trying to counteract it with that movie. And not realizing that what I had to do was no movies until something spoke to me.”

Eventually the tug-of-war over different films led the actress to lose sense of where she wanted to go with her career.

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“When I read ‘Causeway,’ I had no confidence in myself — I had no confidence in my antenna. I had lost so much of what I used to feel was instinctual. And the problem with instincts is it’s not a method you can fall back on,” she continued.

Viola Davis and Jennifer Lawrence for Variety – Photo: Alexi Lubomirski for Variety
Viola Davis and Jennifer Lawrence for Variety – Photo: Alexi Lubomirski for Variety

Davis could see herself relating to the idea, though she felt more out of place with the industry as a whole.

“It’s interesting, especially what you say about instincts — that they don’t always work. But I have to say that the business is probably one of the biggest offenders of my love of the work. Because I don’t feel like I fit into the business,” said the actress.

Speaking about her time training at the renowned acting school Julliard, explained they focused on “technical proficiency”.

“When you’re rehearsing at Juilliard, they have a teacher with a pencil who follows you through the rehearsal and puts the pencil in your mouth to see where your tongue is positioned. And so when it gets like that, and you leave yourself and your soul behind, you’re not an artist,” she shared.

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“And on top of that, it’s Eurocentric training. So when you’re studying all those classics, it’s clear what all of those characters look like — and that’s not me. So then what am I supposed to do with me? What am I supposed to do with my Blackness? What am I supposed to do with my deep voice and my wide nose?” she added.

As for Lawrence, she found doing press tour always gave her immense stress.

“For my experience, the biggest hindrance to my craft has been press, doing interviews. Every time I do an interview, I think, ‘I can’t do this to myself again.’ I really can’t. I’m always very self-conscious of my intellect because I didn’t finish school. I dropped out of middle school,” explained the 32-year-old. “I don’t want anybody to know, or think they know, what I’m like. I’m supposed to be a mirror. I’m supposed to be a vessel. You shouldn’t look at me and remember that I got married in Rhode Island a few years ago and that my husband’s an art dealer. I feel like I lose so much control over my craft every time I have to do press for a movie and I’m selling this — especially something like ‘Causeway,’ which just felt so personal.”

Read the full interview at Variety.


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Ellen Bullock