Academy Award Winner, Viola Davis, Speaks Out On Overcoming Struggles And How She’s Giving Back
Every year, the Institute of Transformational Nutrition contributes a percentage of every student’s tuition to the humanitarian association, Just Like My Child.
On November 11, 2017, Academy Award Winner, Viola Davis was presented with the Global Humanitarian Award for her dedication to the education and empowerment of vulnerable youth at their annual fundraising gala.
The speech she gave shook everyone in attendance.
As the first black actor to win the Triple Crown of Acting, including a Tony Award, a history-making Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for her work on How to Get Away with Murder, and three-time Oscar-nominated performances in The Help (2011), Doubt (2008) and her recent win for her role in Fences (2017), Viola Davis is an inspiration to women and girls all around the world.
At the Institute of Transformational Nutrition (ITN), we strive to give back while empowering others to do the same. Our students are changing the world, one person at a time, and it’s an honor to be a part of their mission.
[This is such an honor, for me. I had a] mother who had an eighth-grade education, father who had a fifth-grade education – in 1965 Central Falls, Rhode Island.
And, I don’t know what to say, but I found this perfect quote, and its, “I did not come to faith by just a giant leap, but rather, a series of staggers from one safe place to the next, like a round lily pad’s, green, round, I would land on these leaf pads and they would hold me up and give me strength, and each pad, you know, prepared me for the next pad, and that’s how I moved through fear and doubt. “
Those pads sometimes were a teacher, sometimes a friend, sometimes a stranger, and sometimes I stayed on the pad a long time.
But what I found through the journey of my life, is with each pad that, I moved – I moved – I got to the level of success, and I thought when I got to the other side of the swamp…you know, I did it.
I am Ms. Tyson. I’m an actress.
I wanted to be an actress, that was my goal, that was my vision, my vision of success, my way out.
And then came the emptiness of that.
And I was wondering, what is that emptiness?
And that emptiness is that final stage which is significance.
And my significance is being the leaf pad.
I only have one picture of myself as a child, when I was in junior first, that’s what they called it back in the day, junior first. I have a half smile half frown, my ponytail was held together by an elastic band.
And I look at that kid a lot, you know, she’s who gets up in the morning in my house, when I put my feet on the ground she’s there, and she sort of keeps me honest.
Whenever I’m having a hard day, cause I had 18-hour days on the set at How to Get Away with Murder and I’m complaining about my life she says, “Do you remember when you were hungry?”
And then if I say, “They’re not paying me like they pay some of those white actresses,” she says, “You remember when you didn’t have any money and you didn’t have any food in your refrigerator. And you were sleeping on a mattress that you got on the side of the road?”
She talks to me.
And she reminds me that if someone did not throw that little chocolate girl from Central Falls, Rhode Island a rope, she would not be here today. The mother of this beautiful child.
I am indeed here because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants, and I have had people that have taught me how to fail, how to succeed, they have seen me and invested in me.
And at the end of the day, they liked me.
So I feel like I have done that too. I love, love the saying that “One girl at a time.” “One girl at a time,” That’s it. I love that.
That’s how you change the world.
So if I feel like I can lift one girl up, I feel that when I leave the earth, I’ve left something here that is going to live way past me.
And so I encourage people to say, “run your leg of the race” because I’m running mine, I’m going to pass the baton to some very beautiful young girls here tonight.
Thank you so much for this honor, I – you know I feel like Moses who was a stutterer and God said, “You know what, I don’t care if you’re stuttering, we’ve got plans for you.”
I feel sort of like that, I don’t want to compare myself to Moses but – thank you so much. I am so honored by this.
Since its inception in 2006, Just Like My Child Foundation (JLMC) has delivered healthcare services, education, microenterprise, social justice, leadership, and empowerment programs to over 200,000 individuals (primarily women and children) in 76 rural communities in Central Uganda and Senegal. You can learn more by visiting their website, www.justlikemychild.org.