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Viola Davis Talks New Film Her Liberating Natural Hair


Viola Davis is definitely not letting any Hollywood moss grow under her stylish feet. Many of her fans first discovered her in "Doubt" with Meryl Streep then supported her in "The Help." Since then, she appears to be everywhere. Loving wife to actor Julius Tennon and mom to toddler Genesis, the Juilliard trained star is a force of nature.

When you make your Valentine's Day plans, include Davis' new film "Beautiful Creatures." The film is a love story based on a series of bestselling, young adult, fantasy novels. Viola plays Amma, a character who appears as an elderly maid in the book. Amma is a seer who communicates with her powerful ancestors called "The Greats."

We visited Ms. Davis on set in New Orleans to talk about the project. The Tony award-winning Oscar-nominated actress is thrilled about "Beautiful Creatures" and her life right now. Viola has come into her own, insisting that although her character was originally written as a maid, she wasn't going down that road with Amma.

Check it out!

HelloBeautiful: How did you prepare for the role of channeler Amarie "Amma" Treadeau?

Viola Davis: I'd like to tell an interesting story but I didn't have any channelers I could call. There was no 1-800-channeler so I had to do a lot of work on the internet. You know, it's not a really big role so I had to make it as authentic as possible without being too cartoony with it.

HB: Were you familiar with the "Beautiful Creatures" series of teen books?

Viola Davis: I was not familiar at all. I'm surprised. I have so many nieces and nephews who are that age. I just thought the script was fabulous. It's a good read. It really is very entertaining. And what I like about it is that it deals so much with the past. Usually movies like this are so futuristic and project into the future but this one really dealt with the past and how it informed these characters in the present. I'm a sucker for a great love story even if they're teenagers I just love it.

There are fabulous things about "Beautiful Creatures." There's a depth to the storyline dealing with the Civil War. Like my character and Jeremy Irons character and how our families intertwine.

HB: Tell us about the mystical, magic woman Amma. Originally she was a maid, right?

Viola Davis: In the book Amma is an older woman who is a housekeeper and then there's Marian who is the librarian who has a PHD. They've combined those two characters and come up with moi. I said, "I don't want to be seen with an apron. I don't want to clean anything. I don't to cook anything."

After coming off "The Help" — actually even if I didn't come off "The Help" — I didn't want (with the pieces of the puzzle this movie put together) for my role to be one of servitude. I wanted to be in it. So Amma is a friend of Ethan's mother and I said I want to look like the friend after the mother is gone. I said I'll come in with some food but if we're eating we have to eat together! I don't wanna be cooking it in a pot.

HB: Did you realize that de-wigging and revealing your natural Afro at The Oscars would be such a big moment?

Viola Davis: Any sister who takes her wig off knows she's making a statement [whether] wanting to make a statement or not. (smiles) You know what? I wish I had a better story to make me sound more heroic but... I've been with my husband, married 9 years. And he's been saying to me, "I'm tired of the wigs. I'm tired of the rags on the head at night." So I finally took the wig off and did it for him. Then I happened to go to a magazine shoot and they said "I love the hair!" And I said, "okay, no problem." Once people saw the LA Times Magazine [shoot] they thought I looked cute in it. And whenever someone tells you you look cute you're like, okay — I'll go further with it!

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