The 8 Most Inspiring Moments from Viola Davis’ Power of Women Speech

by John Boone 3:40 PM PDT, October 13, 2014
Photo: Variety

Actress, philanthropist, lawyer who can keep the most cuckoo crazy murderers out of jail (at least on How to Get Away With Murder), infuriating criminal law professor (also on TV — c’mon, all those students have their hands raised. You can’t just call on the same five people every time), inspiration. Viola Davis does it all.

While being honored at Variety's 2014 Power of Women luncheon, Davis, who started the Hunger Is initiative to put an end to childhood hunger, opened up about growing up hungry in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

It was inspiring, touching, heartfelt and here were the best parts:

1. When she started with tears and you knew right away this would make you feel all the feels:

“I didn’t expect to come here and cry. I expected to come and drink lots of champagne.”

2. When she explained why she joined the Hunger Is initiative:


“Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty. I was one of the 17 million kids...who didn’t know where the next meal is coming from.”

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“I did everything to get food. I’ve stolen for food. I’ve jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food. I have befriended people in the neighborhood who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day, for food. And I sacrificed a childhood for food. And grew up in immense shame.”

5. When she encouraged everyone to be as open as she is being:

“The word that I would like to eradicate today is ‘unspeakable.’ Everything should be spoken. I think everybody’s testimony should be spoken. I think everybody’s shame should be spoken.”

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6. When she provided facts:

“In the richest country in the world...The stain that’s on this country is that one out of every five children are leaving in households that are food poor.”

7. When she called for change:

“The thing that made me join [Hunger Is] was the word ‘eradicate.’ Get rid of. Not by 30 percent. Not by 20 percent. Not by 50 percent. But to do away. Because everyone should be a child. And should grow up and have a chance at the American dream.”

8. And lastly, when she said this:

“Really, it is my honor to serve.”

Watch Viola’s full speech below:

“I just thought it was something that I experienced in my childhood,” Viola told Variety. “I didn’t know that one in every five children lives in a household that has food issues…And they’re not all poor. A lot of them are food poor. After they pay the electric and the rent, they don’t have enough left over for food.”

Check out where you've seen the How to Get Away With Murder cast before: