Viola Davis Receives Lifetime Achievement Award at Rome Film Festival, Says Art Is ‘God’s Playground’

Viola Davis, a fantastic actress who is electric onscreen, was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Rome Film Festival Saturday evening at a special closeout event, and deservedly so.

The 54-year-old actress chatted with festival head Antonio Monda during the Close Encounter talk, discussing a broad range of topics, including how art is divine.

“Art lives in that world of imagination. It’s a playground there. It’s God’s playground,” she said. “It’s not up to anyone to say what deserves to be there and what doesn’t deserve to be there. It’s anything that you want to be in that place can live there. And that is why we have some of the greatest painters, some of the greatest actors, some of the greatest writers, and that’s why we live.”

From her role as Annalise Keating on “How to Get Away With Murder” to her Oscar-winning performance in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences opposite Denzel Washington, there is no denying that Davis has earned her placed on God’s playground.

Thankfully she did, and she believes God’s gift of art and the use of her own imagination have together empowered her to rise above life’s challenges and become someone great.

“Albert Einstein said that imagination is more valuable than knowledge. If I did not have my imagination, I would still be poor Viola living in Central Falls, Rhode Island,” she said. “My imagination defined me. I could escape into a world that’s infinite, a world that I could create on my own, a world where I could redefine myself. That’s where art lives.”

Even though the L’Oréal Paris ambassador has achieved far more than she ever could have imagined, there are still industry roadblocks and challenges that women continue to fight against—particularly women of color.

When Monda asked Davis if she thought the Film Academy was doing sufficient work to represent women and diversity by diversifying its body, she said, “It’s a reduction to answer the #MeToo or diversity inclusion issue by relegating it to just the Academy.”

Davis explained, “Everything is white, except for the NBA and the NFL”—a statement that drew audience applause. “Everything is white: studio heads, executives, films. How many films do we have this year with people of color being a part of the conversation?” she asked, making a salient point in question form.

“As many television shows as we have on the air, once me, Taraji P. Henson and Kerry Washington, once we leave TV, how many black women do we have even leading television shows?” she queried and added, “Critics are white, usually male. If you’re just looking at the Academy, you’re not looking far enough.”

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SOURCE: EEW Magazine – Toni Reed