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VIDEO: Viola Davis talks about "Doubt" and Oscars

December 23, 2008 |  7:52 am

Watch out, Penelope Cruz! The "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" star may be considered the front-runner for best supporting actress, but these second-tier acting slots are where big Oscar upsets often happen. Among the most promising alternatives is "Doubt" star Viola Davis, who portrays a poor African-American mom who makes a shocking decision when confronted with the accusation that her son may be molested by a priest at school.

When "Doubt" was staged on Broadway, Adriane Lenox won the Tony Award for the role in 2005. So far this derby season, Viola Davis already has been nominated for best supporting actress in the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards. She was voted best breakthrough actress of the year by the National Board of Review.

Camera work by Paul Sheehan

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Comments

The character Viola Davis played in Doubt was working-class. She was on a break from work to have the meeting w/ Meryl Streep's character. When I watched the movie, I did not get the sense that there was any wide economic gulf between Viola's character's family and the other white families in the neighborhood. What was notable was that Viola's character's family was integrating the all-white school and church.

There is nothing, nothing, nothing wrong with saying Viola's character is Black. Black is not a dirty word. Acknowledging race/ethnicity is fine, attaching stereotypes, discriminating against ppl., killing ppl., etc. on the basis of race/ethnicity is not fine.

Viola's family's Blackness is important to the story, just as the all-whiteness of the church and school are important to the story.

What would have been helpful in the synopsis above: be explicit about the race of all characters that are described. The priest was a white priest. What is not cool is to "mark" one person's ethnicity as while allowing whiteness to be the norm, the default. Mark all or mark none.

I think it's relevant to say that the character played by Viola Davis is a poor African American mother because it is integral to the decision the character faces regarding her son. I'm not going to give anything away as I want everyone to see the movie.

By the way, even in this day and age, it is okay to make distinctions when the situation calls for it and it does when discussing Viola Davis' character in Doubt. And in an unrelated note: OMG Meryl Streep, PS Hoffman, and Amy Adams -- an amazing cast and amazing performances.

Finally some much deserved acknowledgement and recognition for Viola Davis -- she is incredible!!!! ( and always has been in every role I've ever seen her in, including on Television).

Viola Davis is a beautiful gifted and talented actor / actress of the highest caliber. I look forward to seeing her in leading roles in the future!

hawkie, you're still politically incorrect -- it should say "the actor plays a financially challenged parent"

Since race plays a role in the movie and in Viola Davis's character, I don't see why it would be non-PC to mention that she's African-American. We may live in the age of Obama, but "Doubt" is not of this age. I mean, when describing the character of Harvey Milk, who doesn't mention that he's gay? It's an integral part of the character and the decisions he makes, and the same can be said of Viola Davis's character.

~Steven

In the age of Obama - let's try not to write she plays a "poor African-American mother. " She plays a poor mother.


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