WATCH: Viola Davis Discusses The Importance Of Passing The Baton To Up & Coming Voices

In Deadline’s “The Actor’s Side” series, Viola Davis sat down for a conversation with Pete Hammond, and they spoke about her early days as an actress, how Cicely Tyson changed her life, the difference in her role in Fences the play and Fences the movie, #Oscarsowhite, diversity in the film and entertainment industry, and more in this candid discussion.

When discussing issues pertaining to #Oscarsowhite and diversity in the entertainment industry, Davis stated the importance of passing the torch to up and coming new voices.  She mentioned that she is currently working with talent such as Cynthia Ervio and Diarra Kilpatrick (who Davis refers to as the “new black Lena Dunham”), and stated “I know that I am 51, an African American actress of a certain hue, of a certain size..all of those things, and I know that I would not have never reached this point in my career without people who had the vision and the scope to see my talent, and without those different narratives where I could fit into.  This is my way of giving back…passing the baton on to other actors voices like me.  That’s the only way that you are going to start to see change.”

“People talk about diversity all the time, and #Oscarsowhite, and whats missing in all of that is that individual’s contribution to changing it.  You can’t change it by constantly criticizing it.  You can’t change it if you don’t put down your money to see one of those so called “diverse” movies, and you can’t change it if you are a studio exec and you are not green lighting those stories.  There will be no change.  The talent is out there.  The voices are out there.”

Check out the entire chat between Davis and Hammond above.

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