Are you wondering what Finding Me By Viola Davis is all about?
Well here is everything you need to know about the recently published memoir by Viola Davis.
Biography and Memoir, autobiography, nonfiction, feminism, cultural, adult, race, African American demographic studies, Black & African American Biographies, actor biographies.
In Central Falls, Rhode Island, there stands a barely standing apartment and in it, a dysfunctional family that often goes without gas, electricity, hot water, or even a phone.
All this we see from the eyes of a little girl, Viola Davis, who becomes familiar with racism, destitution, and dysfunction at a young age.
Davis begins by describing her father as a heavy drunk who often beat her mother and passed the abuse on to her and her siblings.
At night, they would barely sleep as they would be kept awake by the screams and all the other loud noises.
If they were lucky, they would get 2 hours of sleep, wake up in the morning, and prepare for the day as if nothing happened.
They had been trained to never share whatever was going on at home. She laments in the book about the time their father came home drunk bleeding from a fresh wound and their mother started panicking.
As if it was not bad enough that they had to deal with that, their parents began arguing and she remembers her father concluding with a question of whether he should stay or leave.
Never had the children answered so quickly, willing their mother to tell him to leave. Except that it is in their heads.
Their worst nightmare was MaMama (as they called her), begging their father to stay who for sure stayed, ruining the rest of the night for them.
Their parents' trauma and actions had resounding repercussions on Davis and her siblings. On top of the physical and emotional abuse, they also had to endure the living state they were subjected to, a quarter crawling with rats day and night, shoddy plumbing that affected the flushing of the toilets which in other words, never flushed, the welfare checks and the food stamps that were never enough to feed this family of eight.
Their reliable source of food was their school which she and her siblings loved and they made it their salvation as a source of provisions like water and food and as a means of escape from their home life.
They would participate in all kinds of activities and stay late at school studying and taking up more extracurricular activities.
Anything to not get them to go back home early, and everything they could achieve to save them from abject poverty and give them a different life from the one they had.
“Working hard is great when it’s motivated by passion, love, and enthusiasm. But working hard when it’s motivated by deprivation is not pleasant.”
The school was however made unbearable by the bullies. She believed it was because she was black, not pretty and she smelled, to the point of being summoned to the offices by the teachers because of the smell.
From this kind of existence, she developed anxiety which caused her to still wet her bed even at a later age, and due to the frequent lack of care, water, or even soap, she would often go to school smelling of urine.
Of course, teachers and students shunned her for this despite all the other odds being against her.
“I was being bullied constantly. This was one more piece of trauma I was experiencing—my clothes, my hair, my hunger, too—and my home life being the big daddy of them all. The attitude, anger, and competitiveness were my only weapons. My arsenal. And when I tell you I needed every tool of that arsenal every day, I’m not exaggerating.”
The universe never deemed it enough and piled more on them. Davis and her siblings were often left alone and sometimes the older boys who were their neighbors were left to babysit them.
Davis describes the ordeals like she was reliving them, writing about how the older boys would unzip their pants when playing horsey with them.
Other times, their older brother would have to babysit them and sexual curiosity got the better part of them. There were profound aftermaths but the worst part was having to hide it all away and lock it, without having to tell anyone. Ever.
“Once again more secrets. Layers upon layers of deep, dark ones. Trauma, shit, piss, and mortar mixed with memories that have been filtered, edited for survival, and entangled with generational secrets. Somewhere buried underneath all that waste lives me, me fighting to breathe, me wanting so badly to feel alive.
Deloris, Anita, Dianne, and I were sexually abused. There was penetration with Anita and Dianne. I and Deloris were touched.”
One time, Davis' sister looked around their disheveled house and turned to Davis, convincing her that she did not want to live like that when she grew up.
She couldn't really understand these complex life rules at the time but that seed had been planted and now she needed a dream like she needed food and water.
“From age five, because of Dianne, re-creation and reinvention and redefinition became my mission, although I could not have articulated it. She simply was my supernatural ally.”
You can very much identify the transition from raw hardships as a young traumatized girl to a then determined teenager who won a scholarship to Rhode Island college to study theater, graduated, and joined Juilliard where she worked tirelessly to hone her craft.
Even with the achievement, she always got stereotypical roles such as a drug-addicted mother. You might think it would be better as long as the check came in.
Well, her family's financial plights did not make anything better, let alone easier. She says the more she made, the more they asked for as if they were counting how much she made each time.
They acted as if she made more than she actually did. Their burdens became her burdens.
She fought and conquered family drama and work drama, including the game of chance and luck and being black.
“You get auditions based on the level you are at. It’s hard to see when your journey to the top had more ease, but in reality, there is no ease. You do what the lucky person did, you have a 99 percent chance of it not ever happening for you.”
The whole book is a clear depiction of her hard-earned success, the trauma behind it, and the forced reinvention to fight judgment and competition.
“My biggest discovery was that you can recreate your life. You can redefine it. You don't have to live in the past.”
Finding Me impels you to find yourself in a world that does not see you.
How many pages is Finding Me by Viola Davis?
Finding Me by Viola Davis, as a hardcopy, has 304 pages in total and 368 pages as a paperback.
Chapter 1: Running
Chapter 2: My World
Chapter 3: Central Falls
Chapter 4: 128
Chapter 5: Minefield
Chapter 6: My Calling
Chapter 7: The Sisterhood
Chapter 8: Secret, Silent, Shame
Chapter 9: The Muse
Chapter 10: The Starting Block
Chapter 11: Being Seen
Chapter 12: Taking Flight
Chapter 13: The Blooming
Chapter 14: Coming Into Me
Chapter 15: The Wake-Up
Chapter 16: Harnessing Bliss
Chapter 17: There She Is
About the Author
About the Publisher
Who published Finding Me by Viola Davis?
Finding Me by Viola Davis was published by HarperLuxe publishers, the second-largest consumer book publisher headquartered in New York: Finding Me large print edition on the 26th of April 2022.
Finding Me is Harper's Bazaar's best book of 2022.
Did Viola Davis write Finding Me?
Viola Davis is the author of the memoir, Finding Me.
“I believe I was having a bad existential crisis,” Viola says after having to explain the reason she started writing Finding Me.
She believes she had been struggling to connect with the world and find meaning in her life, a feeling that was amplified by the pandemic.
She has been through all the horrors of poverty and a dysfunctional family and thought gaining fame would bring her happiness and peace. Except that it didn't.
So she decided to go right back to the start of it all in writing. Finding Me was born.
About the author
Viola Davis is an American internationally acclaimed actress who has won an Emmy Award, two Tony awards, an Academy Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
She is the only African American woman to receive the Triple Crown of Acting.
Time magazine awarded her the title of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012 and 2017 and was ranked 9th on the list of the greatest actors of the 21st century by The New York Times in 2020.
She has played in films such as how to get away with murder, Fences, Ocean's Eleven, Law & Order, Suicide Squad, Black Adam, and so forth.
In 2017, she was presented with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
Viola currently produces alongside her husband and production partner, Julius Tennon in JuVee Productions.