Viola Davis spoke out about being a dark-skinned Black woman and what her career represents last week in an interview with NPR’s Audie Cornish.

Talking in front of a mostly Black and female studio audience, Davis discussed the challenges of not being considered conventionally attractive.  

“I always say that if I were not a celebrity, I would be invisible,” she said. “It's a larger question about how Black women are treated, how our femininity and beauty is appreciated, our mess, our complexity … We get together; we out-strong each other, you know. It's like, 'Girl, I would never let this man beat my ass, and I would never let him do that.' And it's like, ‘Listen, I know you're with a man that's treating you like crap. C'mon.’ But that's because we haven't felt supported. And we have never felt adored.”

The actress stars in Widows, directed by 12 Years a Slave’s Steve McQueen. Davis believes McQueen’s willingness to acknowledge her complexities is notable.

“I felt that adoration from Steve McQueen,” she said. “I felt that he saw all the things everyone else sees. I mean, I have a deep voice. I'm not a size 2. You know people feel like I'm take-charge — that's how I come off. You know, I'm a leader. All of those things, that's how people see me. But then he sees my shyness. He sees the part of me that is very feminine and fragile.”

The love is mutual; McQueen hasn't been shy about expressing his admiration for the How to Get Away with Murder star, according to Vulture.

“I just don’t think that Viola has been given a lot of the opportunities. She is one of the greatest actors of her generation. She could do an underwater musical,” McQueen said. “There’s nothing she cannot do. We’d joke about it for a little while, that usually it’s the case that she’s playing someone who’s very asexual. But she’s everything a woman is.”

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