Viola Davis Shows How Hollywood Has Underpaid and Undervalued Black Actresses

Viola Davis Widows Casting

Viola Davis at the 89th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room held at the Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood, USA on February 26, 2017. (Tinseltown /

Viola Davis' clip of being called the "Black Meryl Streep" goes viral amid the Black Lives Matter movement.

Since George Floyd’s killing, protests over racial inequality and police brutality have sparked around the world. Now, an interview with Viola Davis and being called the “Black Meryl Streep” has gone viral.

Celebrities including Gabrielle Union have shared the 45-second clip of Davis’s 30-minute interview with Tina Brown at the Women of the World event in 2018. in the interview, she discusses having the same acting career, experience and awards as some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but “nowhere near them” in compensation and opportunities.

Davis added, “But I have to get on that phone and people say, ‘You're a Black Meryl Streep. There is no one like you.’ OK, then if there’s no one like me, you think I’m that, you pay me what I’m worth. You give me what I’m worth.”

Davis makes the point that while women in Hollywood are compensated less than men, Black women are paid far less than white actors.

“We won’t talk about gender inequality of pay,” she said, “because a lot of the women who stepped — and I stand in solidarity with them, OK — what they’re getting paid, which is half of what a man is getting paid, well, we getting probably a tenth of what a caucasian woman gets and I’m number one on the call sheet. Then I have to go in and I have to hustle for my worth. That’s what I feel like I’m doing. Listen, I have more than a 30-year professional career.”

Davis added she wanted bigger opportunities and less stereotypical supporting roles. She compared the success of young white actresses versus Black actresses. She explains, Shailene Woodley is talented but landed 37 magazine covers in one year while “some actress of color whose the same level of talent and everything who may have gotten four. And there is a sense in our culture that we have to be happy with that.”

In relevant news, Anthony Mackie, says Marvel needs to increase diversity on set. Anthony Mackie, the actor who plays Falcon in several Marvel movies reveals in an interview that Marvel movies all have had a white production crew and the company needs to work on diversity. Anthony Mackie recently opened up about his experiences playing Falcon in Marvel movies. During an interview with Daveed Diggs for Variety’s Actors on Actor, Mackie discussed how the Black Lives Matter movement is putting a spotlight on diversity in Hollywood. “It really bothered me that I’ve done seven Marvel movies where every producer, every director, every stunt person, every costume designer, every PA, every single person has been white,” the 41-year-old began. “We’ve had one Black producer — his name was Nate Moore,” Mackie continued. “He produced ‘Black Panther.’ But then when you do ‘Black Panther,’ you have a Black director, Black producer, a Black costume designer, a Black stunt choreographer. And I’m like, that’s more racist than anything else.”
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