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Viola Davis

Viola Davis Talks Love, Life, and Learning in AARP Magazine’s Latest Issue


Viola Davis aarp magazine


Gotta love Viola Davis!

The star of ABC’s hit series How to Get Away with Murder, grew up in Rhode Island in a household of eight that could barely afford to eat even one meal a day. In a revealing interview with AARP The Magazine, Davis shares her thoughts on the crippling effects that growing up poor and hungry have on young people today and relates it back to her early years, when she faced the same adversity. Additionally, from the love she now shares with her husband and young daughter to the luxuries she never dreamed of affording, the two-time Oscar nominee reflects on her achievements, biggest anxieties and the determination that has led to her greatest successes.


Check out some of what she had to say about her life in the newest issue of the AARP magazine:


On her reaction to turning 50 and her thoughts on the life she used to live:

“Turning 50 is making me reflect on my life in a way that’s more compassionate and forgiving. I’m able to almost accept the old me.”


On the work of acting and the pressure of living in the limelight:

“The work of acting is fantastic, but being a celebrity sometimes makes me tense and anxious. Expectations, not meeting expectations, criticism—it really hurts.”


On the day she was caught shoplifting:

“I was 9. The store owner screamed at me to get out, looking at me like I was nothing, and the shame of that forced me to stop.”


On growing up poor and the hatred that people projected towards her because of it:

“Most of the time, the school lunch was the only meal I had. I would befriend kids whose mothers cooked three meals a day and go to their homes when I could.”

“People would throw things out of cars and call us the N-word. It was constant.”


On the things she has now that she thought she’d never have:

“Having a house! When you grow up poor, you dream of just having a home, and a bed that’s clean—that’s a sanctuary. Having a really great husband, a child who’s healthy and happy and brings me joy—all of that has been my dream.”

“As kids, we often didn’t have bus fare, so to have a car today—it’s unbelievable to me.


On being asked to be the spokesperson for the “Hunger Is” campaign (hungeris.org):

“I’ve been so focused on my child, my husband and my career that I never thought of the last step, which is giving back.”

Viola Davis 

On her feelings towards Annalise’s promiscuous side:

“Women who are promiscuous are that way for a reason and I wanted to delve into that.”


On her feelings towards Annalise’s unlikeable side:

“I’ve played warm and fuzzy to the point that it’s made me nauseous. We’re not always likable. Sometimes we’re mean, and we’re mean to the people we love. I reserve the right to be a mess and completely unlikable.”

Viola Davis 

On her feelings about marriage and love:

“I didn’t fall in love. I walked into it, with my eyes wide open. I understood the union of marriage. You sort of die to yourself and you’re reborn into this union.”


On the little girl she once was who is still with her:

“I’m not poor anymore. Sometimes that girl is literally sitting in my Jacuzzi, going, ‘Wow! Look at the yard! Look at the rabbits in the garden! We have cottontails all over the place.’ ”

Viola Davis

Husband Julius Tennon on his and Viola’s successful marriage and their professional relationship:

“We work as a team— that’s how we roll. A few doors get slammed once in a while. But you can always say, ‘I’m sorry.’ And we make each other laugh.


The August/September issue of AARP magazine featuring the full cover story featuring Viola Davis is available in homes today and online now at aarp.org/magazine.

Viola Davis 

Wife. Mom. Believer. Writer. Advocate.

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