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Viola Davis Shares Story of Her Birth on a Former Slave Plantation

Viola Davis

Viola Davis

By Zeba Blay

Viola Davis is considered by many to be one of the best actresses of her generation. With her onscreen roles in “Doubt” and “The Help” plus her hit TV show “How to Get Away With Murder,” she’s also one of the most successful.

But Davis comes from humble beginnings, as she recently recalled in an interview with People magazine. According the actress, she spent part of her childhood living on her grandmother’s farm, a former plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina ― totally unaware of its dark past.

“I wasn’t on it long, because I was the fifth child, and so we moved soon after I was born,” Davis explained in a sit-down interview with People’s Jess Cagle .

“I went back to visit it, briefly, but still not aware of the history. I think I read one slave narrative of someone who was on that plantation which was horrific.”

Davis, whose grandfather was a sharecropper, went on to describe the “one room shack” that her grandmother lived in.

“[There was] no running water. No bathroom. It’s just an outhouse,” Davis said.

“But my mom says that the day I was born, all of my aunts and uncles were in the house, she said, everyone was drinking and laughing, and having fun. She said she ate a sardine, mustard, onion, tomato sandwich after I was born.”

“I love that story,” the actress added. “It’s a great story of celebration in the midst of what you would feel is a decimated environment, but you could see the joy and the life that can come out of that, because it’s not always about things, you know.”

Davis, who turned 51 on August 11, currently stars in “Suicide Squad.” She recently wrapped filming on Denzel Washington’s upcoming August Wilson adaptation, “Fences.”

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