Viola Davis is speaking out about the importance of women owning who they are, imperfections and all.
Speaking at the 11th Annual Women in Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party in Beverly Hills, California, on Friday, the How to Get Away With Murder actress — who is among the list of star-studded presenters for the 2018 Academy Awards on Sunday — gave a rousing speech calling for women to embrace their often complicated identities.
“You know I was telling a story to the women at my table…I told my five-year-old daughter at the time you know I said, ‘Genesis you’re very complicated.’ And she said, ‘Mommy, take that back, take that back,’ ” the 52-year-old said at the event, where guests sipped on Jane Walker by Johnnie Walker cocktails.
And although the Academy Award-winning actress tried to tell her daughter she meant it as a compliment, her daughter Genesis, now 6, didn’t see it that way.
“I said, ‘Genesis, that’s a compliment. That means you’re multifaceted, that there’s a lot of different things in you.’ [But] she said, ‘Mommy, you’re trying to tell me that I’m confusing,’ ” Davis added.
Acknowledging that being a woman can often feel confusing, “especially in this past year that we have [had] testimonies of sexual assault,” Davis emphasized how important it is for women to value themselves.
“We’re still worth it,” she added. “With all of our imperfections, with all of our complexities and confusion, we’re still worth it.”
“This is a year of owning who we are. You either own your story and you share it. Or you stand outside of it always hustling for your worth,” Davis continued.
“We are all worth it. That is what we need to come into [a] room with. That’s what we need to go into 2018 and 2019 with. That the privilege of a lifetime is being exactly who we are,” she concluded.
Immediately following Davis’ speech, the event’s co-host Emma Stone commented, “No one should ever have to follow Viola Davis ever.”
“This has been a historic year for so many reasons. Many of you are a part of that. As you said, it’s a tipping point and it’s very exciting, and it can be very jarring at times,” Stone continued, as she introduced tennis star Billie Jean King.
“I’m so inspired by the voices I’ve gotten to listen to, and the things I’ve learned,” she added. “Keep it up and congratulations.”
The 2018 Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4 and will be televised live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.