Viola Davis says Black actors are treated like “leftovers” in Hollywood

"A lot of time with inclusivity, it’s a second thought"

Viola Davis has said that Black actors are treated like “leftovers” in Hollywood.

The actress, who recently starred in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, shared her thoughts on inclusivity and casting in a new interview with Variety.

“It’s so hard to get films made that don’t fit a certain box of how they see us,” Davis said on the publication’s Awards Circuit Podcast.


“Inclusivity cannot be a hashtag. You’ve got to write roles for people of colour that are culturally specific – that is just as thought out as our white counterparts’ roles, to get to the point of excellence, so that we can be considered for awards.

“But a lot of time with inclusivity, it’s a second thought. We’re the leftovers.”

Ma Rainey
‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’, starring Viola Davis. CREDIT: Netflix

Davis became the most nominated Black woman in Oscar history this year, when she was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

The actress has been nominated a total of four times so far, making her just one of two Black women to win an Oscar and then be nominated again, alongside Octavia Spencer.

“The only reason I’m breaking records is that no one has been recognised,” Davis went on to say. “That ‘honour’ is a sort of limited honour. The problem is with the moviemaking business itself, not the awards.”


Viola Davis added: “You cannot nominate anyone for awards if there are no films being made.”

In a four-star review of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, NME said of Davis’ performance: “She imbues the battle-hardened singer with brassy glamour and an indomitable charisma.”