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Viola Davis Shares the Opportunity She Sees for Women in This Moment

Viola Davis

“We have woken up to a world where it is almost a beautiful, blank canvas,” Viola Davis said during the 2020 Pennsylvania Conference for Women. Its a world, she said. where we can write our own story and create a world that our daughters and nieces can thrive in and where we can be better than before.

It is an opportunity, she said, to remember your younger self before you felt restricted by society, celebrate who you are now, and imagine who you can be in the future. It is a time, she said, to set off on what Joseph Campbell called the heros journey.

“So, what is it?” she asked attendees. “Who do you want to be, and what do you want this world to be?”

In the heros journey, we always face obstacles—or, in Campbells terms, are called on to slay dragons. And, importantly, as Davis pointed out:

“There is always a final fight—which I believe were in right now—where you feel Im going to lose my life. But you slay those dragons. You call on a strength within yourself that you didnt even know was there. You harness it and get it out. Then you get that elixir, that magical potion that is going to transform your life, and go back to the ordinary world and share it with others.”

So, call on the strength of women who came before us, she urged, and figure out how you are going to pass the baton to the generations who will follow us.

More personally, she said: “If you want to know me, dont ask me where I live or what I eat or how I comb my hair. Instead, she suggested, ask me what I live for, in detail. Or better yet, ask me what is keeping me from fully living for what I live for.

“As a woman of color, if I were to say what I live for: I live for honoring my worth. Every day, I have to balance my life with what I have at my hands to give, to create, and also to fight all those things injected in me as a child that were insulting and challenged my worth and my value.”

What does that all look like?

“What that looks like are all the things that absolutely are in the way of destroying our lives as women have got to be addressed. And, we have to have each others backs because if we dont move forward together, we dont move forward.”

“Its been a hard year,” Davis concluded. “Next year will be hard, too. But it will be a good one because once you are woke, you cant go back and youve gotta do better.”

About Viola Davis

Considered one of the greatest actors of all time, Viola Davis has won every major acting award: An Academy Award, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, two Tonys, and three Drama Desk Awards.

She grew up poor, the fifth of six children, with an alcoholic and sometimes violent father. Her family couldnt always afford soap or food. That was not a time, she has said, when she used her now famous voice—because she did not feel worthy of having one. But now she knows her worth—and helps others know their worth, too.

She is an unwavering voice of hope in times of uncertainty. A voice of strength in times of fear. A voice that reminds us we are here to lift each other up.

Check out more highlights from the 2020 Virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women!

Themes: Latest News, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Transitions, Life Balance, Success & Leadership Tagged: , |
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