Viola Davis and Regina King are two heavy-weight names that we thankfully hear in plethora during every award season. And this season is no different as the two have been up for various hardware, oftentimes even taking home the gold. This year, all eyes have been on Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and A Night in Miami, the projects considered this year for various history-making accolades.
Or, the two simply just show their support for one another.
And this year was no different as Regina King managed to snag Viola Davis and family in “Black Americana,” a photo essay for 'W Magazine'.
The project depicts Auntie Viola and husbae, Julius Tennon, who she wed in 2003. And in a surprising twist, the long-time couple's daughter Genesis was also brought along for the ride.
In the classical portraiture of Black American life shot by Andre D. Wagner, you see the what it means to be black in America, a sentiment that the two wanted to express in its entirety. King prefaces it by saying:
"I don't think any of us are particularly happy with the state of America, but we still embrace the fact that we are Black Americans, even with all of the things that have happened in history. There's a life beyond the tragedy, there's life even within the tragedy, and there was a life before the tragedy. That you can be experiencing moments of joy when tragedy comes in and invades your life, and then it melts into something else—we understand that about life in general, but not always with Black folks in it. This is the first time I've ever done a photo shoot like this."
Additional highlights from the project are below:
On how Regina King and Viola Davis met:
Years ago, King met Davis at our good sis, Alfre Woodard's annual Oscars Sistahs Soirée, which celebrates women of color in Hollywood. During the event, Davis explained that after cocktails and dinner, "The media leaves, and then we just let loose; shoes come off, and makeup is wiped off."
That's when their friendship began.
The two would run into each other here and there during awards season, and with Tennon often appearing alongside Davis at various Hollywood events, King got to know him better too.
"I loved that Julius always seemed to be very protective of Viola, but not in a way that looked problematic. He really feels like a partner."
On daughter, Genesis:
Genesis may only be 10 years old, but she already has her sights on Hollywood. The youngster appeared in the animated The Angry Birds Movie 2, which came out in 2019. And sis knows how to respect a giant when she sees one. The first thing she said to King when meeting is:
"I'm talking to a legend right now!"What would you like me to call you?"
The story is explained as Genesis being the gist of the shoot's narrative: a family enjoys a Saturday afternoon at home, Mom and Dad go out on the town that night, the following morning they all head to church, and once they're back home, Mom receives a horrible phone call.
On the struggles of being Black in Hollywood:
One thing that Regina King and Viola Davis can attest to, is the struggles that each of them have faced on their journeys to respected artists--something that each of them still to this day, have to fight through. Davis says:
"I feel like there is still a filter that we have to go through, and by the time you see us on-screen, we've become almost a Mr. Potato Head of who we actually are. You've got to snip out this part for white people because it'll become an indictment. And then what's left is a huge lie. An apologetic lie."
And the ultimate goal of the photo essay:
At the end of the day, King mentions that ultimate goal is to "capture a spectrum of emotions without shying away from the more unpleasant facets of life—Black life in particular—in order to reveal the truth."
"In anyone's work, we're all products of our environment. Sometimes people ask, 'Is there a difference in your perspective because you're a woman?' And I say, 'Yes, but the difference is because it's Regina.' The way Regina would tell the story is different from the way another Black female director would tell the story. The experiences that made us who we are, are all being used in the storytelling."
And that's on Black woman solidarity!
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Featured image by Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com