Viola Davis Talks About How She Grew up in Hopeless Poverty


Viola Davis spoke to a gathering of Hollywood top names and talked about how she grew up in hopeless poverty. She talked about how she would steal for food and how she crawled through garbage bins that were full of maggots just to try and find something to eat. Davis, age 49, has been nominated for an Oscar, and is presently working on the ABC television show How To Get Away With Murder.

At the meeting however, she publicized how it took her many years to be able to come to terms with the enormous shame she had felt about her childhood living in Rhode Island.  She stated that she had to sacrifice her childhood for food, and therefore grow up with vast shame.

Viola shared her personal story of having lived through hunger and has been made a Variety Power Of Women honoree due to the work she performs for the charity Hunger Is. She explained to everyone that even though her childhood had many happy memories, it was also spent in miserable poverty. She stated that she was just one of nearly 20 million kids in the United States who did not have any idea where their next meal would be coming from. She added that she would do anything to get food.

Davis stated that she had stolen for food. She explained that she had jumped inside of large garbage bins full of maggots to try and find food. She would make friends with people who lived in the neighborhood who she knew had moms who would cook up three meals a day so she could get food.

Viola was the second youngest child of six. She was born on the farm of her grandmother in South Carolina before she and her family moved to Rhode Island several months later. Her parents worked as horse trainer and a maid, and she ended up going to a high school where Davis noted that numerous children had to struggle to steer their way through the obscurity of poverty and having very few prospects.

She explained that because she was a ‘geek’, she ended up getting a place at Rhode Island College, where she majored in drama. Since that time, Viola has been nominated for two Oscar Awards, won two Tonys and has contributed $30,000 back to her high school.

Davis declared that a huge stain on America is that there are one in five children living in households which are poor in food. She said that of all the elementary school teachers who are out there, many report that three out of five kids in their classrooms are hungry when they come to class. This is happening in the richest nation in the world.

Viola finally thanked her contemporaries and enthusiasts for the chance to be able to stand up in front of all these people at her age, and be able to share her testimony. She stated she could finally start the healing process and urged those in the room to join by either giving money or learning about Hunger Is and going out and talking about it.

The charity pledges to attack the U.S.’s food poverty epidemic with education. This charity was only one of a various number of charities that were talked about at the yearly awards service. However, none probably had the emotional speech behind it like this one did with Viola talking about how she grew up in hopeless poverty.

By Kimberly Ruble


Global Grind

USA Today

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