Viola Davis has openly addressed the comments made by New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley. Stanley recently said Davis was “less classically beautiful” while referring to Shonda Rhimes, producer of How to Get Away With Murder, as an angry black woman.
In response to that article, New York Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, said it was “astonishingly tone-deaf and out of touch.” Sullivan also noted, “The readers and commentators are correct to protest this story.” She continued, “Intended to be in praise of Ms. Rhimes, it delivered that message in a condescending way.”
Davis responded Thursday on The View:
I’m glad that Shonda Rhimes saw me and said “Why not?” That’s what makes her a visionary. That’s what makes her iconic. I think that beauty is subjective. I’ve heard that statement [less classically beautiful] my entire life. Being a dark-skinned black woman, you heard it from the womb. And “classically not beautiful” is a fancy term for saying ugly. And denouncing you. And erasing you. Now … it worked when I was younger. It no longer works for me now. It’s about teaching a culture how to treat you. Because at the end of the day, you define you.
Davis’ message does not just speak to women. We cannot let others define who we are, even people who may look like us as well. Davis proves that beauty on the inside lives long before and long after beauty on the outside. To quote Ms. Viola, “…At the end of the day, you define you.”