Finding Me by Viola Davis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Viola Davis’ book is more than just her life. Although this book talks about her childhood and her struggles with poverty, food insecurity, and dealing with abuse and trauma throughout her childhood, she shares her journey to finding her purpose in life, and herself. Her upbringing, as horrible as she has described it, was for a purpose. God doesn’t waste anything. Although it was a harrowing experience going through, God has placed her strategically in life to do magnificent things. She knows this now, but going through life, she didn’t have the insight to see how her struggles and experiences were going to mold and shape her into a star; a success. I don’t think any of us truly understand that the bad experiences we suffer in life is actually for a greater purpose; to show God’s glory. If anything, Viola Davis shows us how good God has been to her, and presents her story in such a way that God’s glory cannot be denied.
I am deeply humbled and sympathetic to Viola’s story. Her story is heartbreaking, a personal interpersonal reckoning, and a survival story. However, all these experiences, have allowed her to bring forth characters in her career that has made us all see the gift and talent that have not been diminished by her upbringing. If anything, her struggles shaped, molded, and built her in order for her to reach back and use these experiences for future success.
Reading this book made me realize how privileged I was a youth. I wasn’t raised in a rich family by any means, but my modest upbringing and lack of financial resources were not as poor as I thought. I went to school with kids like Viola, but I personally was not affected by poverty like her. Though we lived in a redlined Black neighborhood, I wasn’t food insecure, nor did we have to move to various houses throughout my childhood. Now I understand that God prepares us and builds us up for each of our unique situations.
Viola talks about systemic racism, colorism, sexism, misogynoir, domestic abuse, poverty, and how white systems try to erase our blackness just to digest us in a more tolerable way. It is also worthy to note that representation is absolutely necessary in our world. Shonda Rhimes was able to get Viola Davis into a part that allowed her to heal from many of her traumas she experienced as a young woman. Only a Black woman could do that, could see her, and ensure this happened for her. It was empowering to read, and I was so touched by everything Viola shared in her memoir.
Reading this book stirred a ton of emotion inside of me. Putting up with bullying throughout my childhood was difficult, going to a PWI was shocking and demoralizing, navigating the white man’s military was rough, but I made it. Her book really made me reminisce on all the things I’ve experienced, and how those unfortunate experiences shaped and molded me into the woman I am today, and allowed me to use those experiences to become a better person.
“There is absolutely no way whatsoever to get through this life without scars. No way!!”
“There is an emotional abandonment that comes with poverty and being Black. The weight of generational trauma and having to fight for your basic needs doesn’t leave room for anything else. You just believe you’re the leftovers.”
Viola is not only telling her story, but she gives hope to those who can’t see their way out of their situations. She talked in detail about how therapy saved her, and its something the Black community has not talked about openly until recently. Therapy was always something white people did in my mind. My parents and friends of my parents would either joke or talk around the topic of therapy, like its something people with money did… and Black people never had money to spend on therapy. However, I’m glad Viola was able to find a therapist that helped her heal. That there were people in her life helping her move forward a little bit at a time. I also am thankful that she spoke of the acting world in realistic experiences because we as regular people don’t know what goes on behind the acting/celebrity world. It reminds us all how human we all are.
I am more in awe of Viola Davis after this memoir than I was before I read her book. Though I knew some of her upbringing in poverty, I didn’t know the extent of her poverty and all that went with it. We all face difficulties in this world, but we don’t know the level and severity of those experiences and how they can show up later in our lives, behaviors, and mentality. God did protect her throughout her life. Definitely not the way in which she thought he would, and not at the times she wanted, but he has clearly came through and used everything she went through for good. To God be the GLORY! Viola Davis is an amazing woman, and I am grateful to have had this opportunity to read her memoir.
This book is a top read this year, hands down. 5 stars.
**Thank you to HarperOne for the gift of this book.
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Finding Me by Viola Davis