The film “Woman King”, according to Viola Davis, decisive for the future of black women in cinema
Just days before the release of the feature film The Woman King, its headliner Viola Davis sees it as a baptism of fire for the future of big-budget Hollywood films directed by black women.
In an interview with AFP on Wednesday, the Oscar-winner said she felt a lot of pressure because she believed this work would be judged differently than films with white directors and actors.
“First of all, the film has to make money. And I’m divided on that (…) If he doesn’t bring in any money, what does that mean? Black women only, black women can’t that top the global box office?” the Murder star quipped.
“After that, they’ll have stats that say +Woman King+ did this, that, or that. And that worries me,” said Viola Davis.
“Because it’s just wrong. We don’t do that with white films. If one film fails, you do another and another,” she added.
The Sony film The Woman King, which chronicles the real life of warrior women in the 19th-century Kingdom of Dahomey – located in present-day Benin – is in many ways a leap into the unknown for a major Hollywood studio.
Viola Davis, the only African American to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony award, spent six years convincing reluctant studios and producers to back the project.
Ultimately, the $100 million budget film features an African-American director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and a mostly black and female cast.
– “Prove it” –
Viola Davis plays Nanisca, a seasoned warrior training the next generation of recruits tasked with fighting a rival larger African kingdom and European slave traders.
The female army of the Kingdom of Dahomey also inspired the fighters of Black Panther, a film that grossed $1.3 billion worldwide.
Viola Davis challenged the public to show that you can succeed without a franchise like Marvel.
“If you can spend your money to see +Avatar+ or +Titanic+, you can spend your money to see +The Woman King+,” said the Oscar-winner for her performance as the rejected wife in Fences. “And if we really are the same, then I dare you to prove it.”
– “You won’t see us anymore” –
The film was well received at its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, with Variety magazine praising a “compelling portrayal of black power” starring Viola Davis in her “savage role”.
However, the actress regretted that the film’s fight scenes were criticized, which she felt were misogynistic.
“There are even people, among the black population, who say: +Ah, it’s a film with black women, why are they so masculine? Why aren’t they prettier? Why couldn’t this be a romantic comedy? ‘ the actress told AFP.
If this film doesn’t make money, “you won’t see us at all,” lamented Viola Davis. “It’s the truth. I wish it were different.”
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