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    Viola Davis Opens Up About a Pivotal Conversation with Will Smith That Shifted Her Perspective of Self 

    Viola Davis can recall a time when she was known to the world for her stellar acting career, but at the same time still almost unknown to herself.

    In her first book, a memoir titled “Finding Me,” Davis writes from a place of reflection, while sharing anecdotes of pivotal moments that have helped to shape the woman she is. One of those moments happened during the filming of the 2016 box office hit “Suicide Squad” alongside Will Smith.

    Photo: @violadavis/Instagram

    Davis and Smith only shared a handful of on-screen moments in the film, but the most memorable one took place when cameras were not rolling. The “Fences” star writes that the publicly reflective actor asked a simple yet complex question that left her at a loss for words.

    “Viola, who are you?” asked Smith. Perplexed by what he meant, Davis writes that Smith went on to explain who he was outside of the celebrity and accolades. “Look, I’m always going to be that 15-year-old boy whose girlfriend broke up with him,” Smith explained. “That’s always going to be me. So, who are you?”

    By this point in her career, Davis had already won a Tony, multiple Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Awards, to name a few. She was the star of one of ABC’s rating juggernauts, “How to Get Away With Murder,” a cover girl and so much more professionally. Yet, Davis writes that while she was initially stupefied when tasked with really, honestly, looking at who she was when stripped of what the world sees, she eventually saw herself.

    “There I was, a working actress with steady gigs, Broadway credits, multiple industry awards, and a reputation of bringing professionalism and excellence to any project. Hell, Oprah knew who I was. Yet, sitting there conversing with Will Smith, I was still that little, terrified, third-grade Black girl.

    In the 368-page book Davis details the last effects of growing up in an impoverished household, rising above abusive situations and having the audacity to strive for a successful acting career in spite of her early circumstances.

    As for her foray into writing, Davis says, “I believe that I was having a bad existential crisis; that’s what I believe.” While “Finding Me” was written during the pandemic, Davis says her “crisis” led her on a search.

    “What’s my meaning, how do I connect to the world, feeling very disconnected, very isolated,” Davis told Oprah in a Netflix special promoting the book. “I think before that time what’s happened with me over the last probably 12-13 years is the ascension to a level of fame, I think its safe to say, and the feeling that I hit it and once I got on top that somehow my life was going to open up.”

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