'I Cannot Lead With Bullshit': Viola Davis is Fed Up With Black Women Being Left Behind and She's Doing Something About it

In yet another display of “Viola Davis’ Speeches Are Better Than Everyone Else’s,” the Widows actor took the stage as an honoree of The Hollywood Reporter’s 2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100.


In her speech, she stood up for not just women, but black women. Calling out the “lies” of The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island and Leave It To Beaver, Davis spoke truth to power on the significance of true black female representation, something she has and will continue to champion with her (and husband Julius Tennon’s) production company, JuVee Productions.

“I was tired of seeing movies without me in it and I don’t mean me—Viola—I mean, me, as a black woman,” she exclaimed, to uproarious applause.

There was no misunderstanding; the message was clear. Davis was speaking to black women. She was speaking to us. She was speaking for us.

“The demons aren’t gargoyles, they’re not men with pointy noses, ears... they’re other people’s desires for your life,” Davis said. “People who don’t see you, people who stereotype you, people who take your pathology, your complexity, everything away from you. How you have to water yourself down in order to meet the standards of the community that is in charge, which is not mine.”

She summed it up best: “I cannot lead with bullshit,” also encouraging everyone to “embrace the truth.”

To celebrate her induction in the acclaimed THR list, Davis also spoke with research professor and Oprah-crowned speaker Brené Brown in a profound interview about vulnerability.


“I never thought I had the courage to be a leader. I always faded into the background—it was very comfortable for me,” she revealed. “But I read something that I’ve been using in a lot of my speeches: ‘Courage is fear said with prayers.’ So, when I see courage like that, then I say, ‘OK, I can be a leader.’”

Ms. Davis, please hear it from us: you are a leader. You are the leader.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.



She spoke as a Black woman and as an artist who’s rightly pissed that her industry have largely ignored and dismissed Black women while suppressing their artistry. The best way to fight back is to own and produce your own work while calling out the ‘bullshit’ from those responsible for pushing you down.