Academy Award-winning Viola Davis is a critically acclaimed actress that has a resume of films and television shows that prove is a powerhouse of a performer but within that resume, she has some regrets…one of them being The Help.
Fresh off the premiere of Steve McQueen’s Widows at the Toronto International Film Festival, Davis recently admitted in a New York Times interview that The Help was a great experience, but she took issue with the portrayal of the titular “help”.
In the interview, she said that she enjoyed working with director Tate Taylor and developing relationships with her co-stars who she praised as “extraordinary human beings.” The problem doesn’t seem to be the experience in making the film, but more of what wasn’t portrayed in the movie.
“I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” said Davis said. “I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, ‘I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963,’ I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie.”
When the movie was released in 2011, Davis received rave reviews and an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Aibileen. Jessica Chastain also earned a nomination while Octavia Spencer took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress — but Davis has a point.
Although the movie seems to be a touching story about the relationship between “the help” (women of color) and their white employers, the movie also received a lot of flak when it was released. The movie is told mostly through the gaze of the movie’s main heroine: Emma Stone’s Skeeter. Many thought it painted an unpopular “white savior” picture that pushed aside the emotional narrative of the black maids.