Actress Viola Davis regrets her role in “The Help,” saying it didn’t properly give voice to the black maids depicted in the film.
The 2011 period drama written and directed by Tate Taylor tells the story of a group of black maids living in Jackson, Mississippi, during the Civil Rights Movement in 1963. The maids speak in confidence to a white journalist, played by actress Emma Stone, who publishes their personal stories and exposes the racism they faced working for white families in the South.
Ms. Davis, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Aibileen Clark, told The New York Times in a new Q&A that the film told the story of the white journalist who saved the day instead of the black maids she wrote about.
“Have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted? I have, and ‘The Help’ is on that list,” Ms. Davis said. “I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard.
“I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom,” she said. “And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie.”
Ms. Davis, who went on to win an Oscar for “Fences” in 2017, said she did enjoy her experience filming “The Help” and said the people involved “were all great.”
“The friendships that I formed are ones that I’m going to have for the rest of my life,” she said. “I had a great experience with these other actresses, who are extraordinary human beings. And I could not ask for a better collaborator than Tate Taylor.”
“The Help” was met with mostly positive reviews upon it’s release, earning a “certified fresh” rating from the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics, however, accused the movie of perpetuating a “white savior” narrative.
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