‘It’s a chance for us black women to be seen’, says Viola Davis

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We are not seen as valuable. We are invisible. Now the lives of these black women, for two hours and six minutes, are finally seen

Even following the press conference digitally, this Monday, the 19th, the presence of Viola Davis was felt as a chill when she entered the conference room – even with the distance of 450 kilometers between the American actress and the reportage. She came to the country to promote A Mulher Rei, a feature film that hits theaters this Thursday, the 22nd. A film that, above all, celebrates a culture and a people so invisible in cinemas.

The Woman King follows the story of the Agojie, a unit of warriors from the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states in Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. Davis is Nanisca, the leader of these women who take it all with an inspiring drive and skill. By her side, there are still characters as powerful as the young Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), the exciting Izogie (Lashana Lynch) and, still, the wise Amenza (Sheila Atim).

“[Com o filme], it’s a chance for us to be seen”, contextualized Viola Davis, during the press conference. “We are not present in films by great filmmakers, great films. We are not seen in life. Not our beauty, our culture. We are not seen as valuable. We are invisible. Now, the lives of these black women, for two hours and six minutes, are finally seen. People are more interested in our lives.”

Going further, Viola, who is also a producer on the feature, explains the importance of the film hitting theaters now – and how she just got tired of the sameness of the characters. “As black women, we are at the bottom of the list,” said the actress. “You can even see doctors, black lawyers with no names in the movies. You see the person on the screen and then you look for who it is, in the credits, and you can’t find it. I’m sick of it. I know who these people are. They are our mothers, our aunts. I know who they are. That’s why it’s an important film.”

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Viola Davis preparation

At the press conference, Viola was asked about her preparation to play Nanisca. The story of the film, which was born from an idea by actress Maria Bello in 2015, demands a lot from the actress – according to her, it took five hours of training a day to be able to do everything the character requires. However, she refutes that The King Woman is an action movie. “It’s a historical drama. It’s understating it too much to say this is an action movie movie,” she says.

And what is the reason for the title A Mulher Rei? Why not “queen” or something? “She’s a general who deserved it, who deserved that title. This woman deserves to be on top. Not as a partner, not as a second-in-command. But a leader. We are usually secondary. Women, black women. Seeing someone like me on a poster with the word ‘king’ means something unbelievably powerful”, contextualizes Viola Davis. Julius Tennon, husband of the actress and also producer, adds at the press conference: “this film can create a change that we all want. After all, it all starts with something spectacular.”

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