1 of 11
ON HER MANTRA
"My go-to saying is that a privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, and I would tell my younger self exactly that—you are absolutely perfect the way you are."
— to InStyle
2 of 11
ON DECIDING TO WALK THE RED CARPET WITHOUT A WIG AT THE 2012 EMMYS
"I would not say that I was 100 percent comfortable until I walked onto the carpet. And I'll tell you why: Number one, I felt like I had to be. Number two, I just wanted to be me. Every time you walk that carpet, the pressure to be your authentic self, but at the same time not stick out ... That balance is something we are all trying to reach when we walk out the door every day. How do we fit in, but be ourselves and be true to ourselves?"
— to Refinery29
3 of 11
ON GROWING COMFORTABLE WITH HERSELF
"The fall hasn't happened. I've been blissfully comfortable in my own skin. I think what's happened is probably just so many years of not feeling comfortable, that maybe I just got tired. Maybe all of the experiences I've had have just marinated into this beautiful pot of me."
— to Today
4 of 11
ON WHAT SHE HOPES TO TEACH HER DAUGHTER
"I don’t care how stereotypical it is, beauty has got to come from the inside. It’s got to come from owning her story — all of it. Her failures, her insecurities, her strength, her joy, all of it. There’s not one thing she can leave on the side of the road and not claim. That’s all I want for her."
— to Refinery29
5 of 11
ON WOMEN BEING WORTH MORE THAN THEIR LOOKS
"We need to stop that with girls. We need to stop saying that all of their value is in the way they look, and whether they're pretty or not. I hate it when people say things like, 'She has a lot going for her because she's beautiful.' But what else is she? Because by the time she's 65 and doesn't have that tight rear end anymore, then you're saying she has no value? That needs to stop. It's the most detrimental thing to suggest that's the only value you have."
— to InStyle
6 of 11
ON NOT BEING AFRAID OF AGING
"What's released me most from the fear of aging is self-awareness. I've never determined my value based on my looks or anything physical. I've been through a lot in life, and what has gotten me through is strength of character and faith."
— to InStyle
7 of 11
FIRING BACK AT THE TV CRITIC WHO DESCRIBED HER AS 'LESS CLASSICALLY BEAUTIFUL'
"I think that beauty is subjective. I've heard that statement my entire life. Being a dark-skinned black woman — you hear it from the time you get out of the womb. 'Classically not beautiful' is a fancy term of saying ugly, and denouncing you, erasing you. Now it worked when I was younger; it no longer works for me now ... Because really at the end of the day, you define you."
— on The View
8 of 11
ON WHY ANNALISE KEATING'S SENSUAL SIDE IS SO IMPORTANT
"We've been fed a whole slew of lies about women. [By TV standards,] if you are anywhere above a size 2, you're not having sex. You don't have sexual thoughts. You may not even have a vagina. And if you're of a certain age, you're off the table."
— to ELLE
9 of 11
ON REDEFINING BEAUTY
"Just like we have to redefine strength, we have to redefine beauty. It’s not even about beautiful, it’s about being who you are. It’s about being honest. It’s about stepping into, 'This is how I am in private, this is how I look, this is how I act, this is my mess, this is my strength, this is my beauty, this is my intelligence,' and then putting it out there that this is who I am."
— to New York
10 of 11
ON LEARNING TO EMBRACE HER LOOKS
"Nobody uses those two words in a sentence: beauty and Viola. I didn’t grow up like that. I didn’t have boyfriends until I was in my 20s. Part of that was because I was extraordinarily shy, but, um, no. And especially, women of my hue are historically, traditionally, not associated with beauty. I think that’s part of the reason why I did take my wig off is because I felt that I was just addicted to the wigs … I felt like I was using it as a crutch. And I wanted to show people that despite all these things, I’m still cute. So look at me. Aren’t I cute? And I just felt that I needed to stop doing that and I needed to stop apologizing for that and I needed to step into who I was."
— to Ebony.com
11 of 11
ON THE ADVICE SHE'D GIVE OTHER WOMEN
"I just look at women sometimes and I just want to ask them, 'Do you know how fabulous you are?' I look back at pictures of myself and I remember thinking, 'I was so fat when I was growing up. I was 165 pounds when I graduated from high school. I was a mess.' And then I look back at pictures of myself, and I'm like, 'You were fabulous.' I wish I would have known that then."
— to ELLE
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