WENN

Viola Davis knows she’s lucky. The Oscar winner, for all of the standout roles that she’s had in her long career, is aware that she hit the jackpot with a character like How to Get Away With Murder‘s Annalise Keating. As she shared in the Net-a-Porter’s newest issue of The EDIT, characters with such ferocity, depth and sexuality are rarely given to Black female actresses who don’t fit a certain look or age group.

“I’m 52 and darker than a paper bag,” she said. “Women who look like me are relegated to the back of the bus, auditioning for crackheads and mammas and the person with a hand on her hip who is always described as ‘sassy’ or ‘soulful’.”

The star said that of her beloved portrayals over the years, the characters were only looked at through one lens. The idea of them being desired and having desire? It wasn’t happening.

“I’ve had a 30-year career and I have rarely gotten roles that are fleshed out, even a little bit,” she said. “I mean, you wouldn’t think [these characters] have a vagina. Annalise Keating has changed the game. I don’t even care if she doesn’t make sense. I love that she’s unrestricted, that every week I actually have to fight [showrunner] Peter Nowalk not to have another love scene. When does that ever happen?”

And as Davis shared, the many sex scenes (sometimes “painful” because they often happen on walls and atop desks) her character has had on the hit ABC drama have revamped the way she’s looked at standards of beauty and sensuality — and her own beauty and sensuality.

“It costs me something, because very rarely in my career – and in my life – have I been allowed to explore that part of myself, to be given permission to know that is an aspect of my humanity, that I desire and am desired,” she said. “I always felt in playing sexuality you have to look a certain way, to be a certain size, to walk a certain way. Until I realized that what makes people lean in is when they see themselves. There’s no way I am going to believe that all women who are sexualized are size zero or two, all have straight hair, all look like sex kittens every time they go to bed and want sex from their man, all are heterosexual. I am mirroring women. I always say it is not my job to be sexy, it’s my job to be sexual. That’s the difference.”

Madamenoire.com