We’re Celebrating Viola Davis’ Birthday With 10 Of Her Most Powerful Quotes


August 11, 2017

Trailblazing actress, Viola Davis, is celebrating her 53rd birthday. 

Davis has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, been named Harvard’s Best Artist of the Year, landed on Time’s list of 100 Most Influential People of 2017, won her first Golden Globe and Academy Award, and made history as the first Black person to achieve the “Triple Crown of Acting”: an Oscar, Tony, and Emmy award (Whoopi Goldberg achieved all three before Davis, but her Tony award was for producing the Broadway musical, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”). Davis first made history in 2015, when she became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Best Drama Actress.

Every single time Davis takes to the stage to accept an award, she manages to deliver a powerful speech that simultaneously inspires us all. To celebrate her birthday, here are 10 of Viola Davis’ most powerful quotes. 


1. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”

Photo via: ABC News 

2. “I own my story. I own my failures. I’m not interested in being perfect. That’s how I deal [with stress]. I don’t put on a mask. I think that the effort to put on the mask is probably more detrimental than just being able to step up and admit your vulnerability in front of people who have enough empathy for you.”


Photo credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

3. “They say to serve is to love. I think to serve is to heal, too.”


4. “The only picture I have of myself as a kid in kindergarten is with a little seersucker and an expression that’s not really a smile, not really a frown, just something. But every time I look at the little girl, I always thought, ‘Oh, that’s a cute outfit.’But she was always hungry, she was always shy, she was always kind of in the background, but inside she had big dreams bursting. And the only thing I could think about is that saying, ‘What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly.'”

Photo credit: Mark Seliger/Glamour

5. “The one thing I feel is lacking in Hollywood today is an understanding of the beauty, the power, the sexuality, the uniqueness, the humor of being a regular Black woman.” 


Photo credit: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times

6. “I believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, truly being who you are. And I’ve spent far too long apologizing for that—my age, my color, my lack of classical beauty—that now at the age of, well, at the age of 46, I’m very proud to be Viola Davis, for whatever it’s worth.”


7. “You can’t be hesitant about who you are.”

Photo credit: David Bellemer 

8. “I want to be in the story. I think I deserve to be in that story, and I believe my story deserves to be told.”


Photo via: People Magazine 

9. “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.”

Photo via: Reuters Pictures


10. “As Black women, we’re always given these seemingly devastating experiences—experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as Black women is take the worst situations and create from that point.” 

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