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Viola Davis Quotes on Self-Love and Empowerment

Viola Davis is one of the most respected artists in Hollywood, and for good reason. Her gripping performances on the stage and screen have earned her critical acclaim and several awards, including (but not limited to) the 2015 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in the popular television series How to Get Away With Murder, as well as an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 2016 film Fences.

Among the many impressive designations Davis has racked up in her career, she is the first — and only — African American performer to achieve the “triple crown” of acting, which includes winning a competitive category at the Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys. In 2023, Davis also achieved the coveted EGOT designation — winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award — when she took home the Grammy for the audiobook reading of her 2022 memoir Finding Me. She is only the 18th person to reach EGOT status.

But Davis is much more than her awards and accolades: She’s also an activist for causes near and dear to her, including several organizations that work to end childhood hunger. She’s a trailblazer who advocates for more inclusive and diverse storytelling in Hollywood, and, as someone who overcame a difficult childhood of poverty, she’s a reminder that surmounting obstacles and achieving our dreams is always within reach.

The inspiring performer has doled out more than a few wise words throughout her decades in show business. Here are a few of the most memorable quotes from the one and only Viola Davis.

We are all worthy of telling our stories and having them heard. We all need to be seen and honored in the same way that we all need to breathe.

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I got to a place of self-acceptance because I had no choice. I cornered myself. I got to the point where I was tired of beating myself up. I could not trade myself in for anyone else.

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I don't have any time to stay up all night worrying about what someone who doesn't love me has to say about me.

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Do not live someone else's life and someone else's idea of what womanhood is. Womanhood is you. Womanhood is everything that's inside of you.

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The only thing that separates women of color from anyone is opportunity.

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I own my story. I own my failures. I'm not interested in being perfect.

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Before my daughter goes to school, I ask her to tell mommy the two most important parts of you. Your heart and your head. That’s where your value lies.

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Living out loud is living a life that's bigger than yourself. Living out loud is, long after you're gone, you leave something on this Earth that's bigger than yourself.

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I believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, truly being who you are. I’ve spent far too long apologizing for that. Now, at the age of 46, I’m very proud to be Viola Davis, for whatever it’s worth.

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I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.

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What keeps me in the business is hope, and that's the hope that women of color are also a part of the narrative. That our stories are just as potent…

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Acting is not rocket science, but it is an art form. What you are doing is illuminating humanity.

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There’s something beautiful that happens when you share your story. The more you share it, the more you heal. The more you share it, the less shame you have.

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All of the hardships I've gone through in life — I can appreciate life so much more because of that. I remember not having food, so to me the joys of life are a lot simpler than other people would assume they would be.

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I would tell my younger self, just be yourself — that who you are is good enough.

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Featured image credit: Cindy Ord/ Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

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About the Author
Nicole Villeneuve
Nicole is a writer, thrift store lover, and group-chat meme spammer based in Ontario, Canada.
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