Viola Davis has higher hopes for Hollywood.
While attending the Produced By Conference on Saturday, the Oscar-winning actress shared her take on what producers should consider before green-lighting projects. Davis spoke about how Hollywood’s lack of quality roles available for Black actors encouraged her and her husband Julius Tennon to launch their own production company, JuVee Productions, and how artists are affected by social media’s massive influence on the entertainment industry.
“Social media has taken over the defining of this art form,” Davis said. “I think that the word ‘escapism’ is something that is interesting — the goal all of us have is to sit in a movie with the popcorn and Sour Patch Kids and forget about our lives — but, literally, it destroys our art form.”
Although the “Fences” actress believes some escapism is healthy, she stressed how the financial incentives to create films and series often ignore reality, making it more difficult to develop complex characters.
“Every time you’re in a room selling a narrative, it’s about how much you can create a story that allows us to escape,” Davis said. “The characters then become a Mr. Potato Head, become Bobble Heads. We forget who these people are really until a movie comes along and blows our mind.”
During the event, Davis certainly made it clear that she’d like Hollywood to approach project development with more thought.
“I would be bolder,” is the advice she’d give to aspiring producers. “I have to say, especially as a Black person, there’s so many things that are taboo. Most of the people you’re in the room asking for money or for a greenlight, there are certain things you don’t say. It’s going to be too insulting. You don’t know until you try.”