Viola Davis Explains Her Issues With Being Called 'Black Meryl Streep' in Resurfaced Interview

Viola Davis
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for L'Oréal Paris

In the resurfaced interview, the actress says she's worked harder than top white actresses despite having similar careers.

Viola Davis knows her worth. The 54-year-old Oscar winner, who is known for her roles in How to Get Away With Murder, Fences, Doubt, The Help, and more, is making headlines thanks to a newly resurfaced interview from 2018 that's going viral. During the interview, Davis explains that being a Black woman means she has to work even harder than her white counterparts in Hollywood. 

"We get probably a tenth of what a Caucasian woman gets and I'm number one on the call sheet," Davis said of Black actors during the Women in the World L.A. Salon interview. "And then I have to go in and I have to hustle for my worth."

Listing her credentials, Davis continued, "I have more than a 30-year professional career... I got the Oscar, I got the Emmy, I got the two Tonys, I've done Broadway, I've done off-Broadway, I've done TV, I've done film. I've done all of it. I have a career that's probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver." 

She added that top white actresses have had "the same path as me," but noted, "Yet I am no where near them, not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities, no where close to it." 

Davis said she has to "constantly get on that phone" to fight for her worth. 

"People say, 'You're a Black Meryl Streep. You are and we love you. There is no one like you,'" she continued. "OK, if there's no one like me, you think I'm like that, you pay me what I'm worth. You give me what I'm worth." 

And worth doesn't just apply to salary in Davis' eyes. She also wants complex parts. 

"Because when I delve into a role, I want something complicated too," she said. "I want to build the most complicated human being, but what I get is the third girl from the left." 

This video has resurfaced as the fight against racial injustice continues across the country and around the world. For more from Davis, watch the clip below: