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Viola Davis celebrates 55th birthday with a powerful message about owning one's story

Everyone from Taraji P. Henson to Reese Witherspoon, Courteney Cox, Janelle Monáe, and Tina Knowles showered the star with birthday wishes.

Viola Davis celebrates 55th birthday with a powerful message about owning one's story
Cover Image Source: Viola Davis joins L’Oréal Paris to celebrate the launch of Age Perfect Cosmetics on March 03, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for L'Oréal Paris )

Happy birthday, Viola Davis! The Emmy, Oscar, and Tony Award-winning actress marked her 55th birthday on Tuesday by reflecting on her humble beginnings and celebrating her personal growth. Posting a snap of the South Carolina home she was born in, Davis shared an inspiring message of embracing one's story with her 5.8 million followers on Instagram. The above is the house where I was born August 11, 1965. It is the birthplace of my story. Today on my 55th year of life... I own it... all of it, she captioned the photo of the modest house.


According to Entertainment Tonight, Davis concluded the caption with a Cherokee Birth Blessing that reads: May you live long enough to know why you were born. Although many mistook the How To Get Away With Murder star's words as an announcement of her having purchased the structure located in Saint Matthews, South Carolina, she clarified in the comments section that the post was about owning her story. I do not "own" above [the] house, I "own" my STORY!! Too abstract I guess, she explained.


Davis' post was soon flooded with birthday messages from several other powerful and inspiring female figures in Hollywood, including (but not limited to) the likes of Taraji P. Henson, Reese Witherspoon, Courteney Cox, Janelle Monáe, and Tina Knowles. THANK GOD FOR THIS DAY!!!! Happy birthday beautiful Queen, commented Henson while Monáe wrote: You are a gift to us all. Happy Birthdáe!!!! Meanwhile, Knowles acknowledged the power of owning one's origins, writing: Yes it is so freeing to embrace the place where you grew up, knowing it helped to create the person you are today.


Davis — who is set to portray Michelle Obama in Showtime's upcoming series First Ladies — previously addressed her childhood in a recent interview with Vanity Fair during which she spoke about how she lacked the confidence to speak her mind. "When I was younger, I did not exert my voice because I did not feel worthy of having a voice," she said, crediting her sisters Deloris, Diane, and Anita, and her mother, Mae Alice, for lifting her up. "[They] looked at me and said I was pretty," she reminisced. "Who's telling a dark-skinned girl that she's pretty? Nobody says it. I'm telling you, nobody says it. The dark-skinned Black woman's voice is so steeped in slavery and our history. If we did speak up, it would cost us our lives."


"Somewhere in my cellular memory was still that feeling—that I do not have the right to speak up about how I'm being treated, that somehow I deserve it," she continued, adding: "I did not find my worth on my own." During the interview, Davis once again expressed regret in starring in the 2011 movie adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's The Help, explaining that she feels like she betrayed herself and the Black community by being a part of the project. The actress admitted that while she took the role in the hopes of finally breaking the glass ceiling in Hollywood—an industry that long sidelined her despite being one of the most talented thespians of her time—she feels guilty about starring in a film that was "invested in the idea of what it means to be Black" but catered "to the white audience".


"Not a lot of narratives are also invested in our humanity," said Davis. "They're invested in the idea of what it means to be Black, but... it's catering to the white audience. The white audience at the most can sit and get an academic lesson into how we are. Then they leave the movie theater and they talk about what it meant. They're not moved by who we were. There's no one who's not entertained by 'The Help.' But there's a part of me that feels like I betrayed myself, and my people, because I was in a movie that wasn't ready to [tell the whole truth]."


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