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Viola Davis And Octavia Spencer Cover "Entertainment Weekly", Defend Playing Maids In "The Help"


The Help actresses Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer cover the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly (on stands Friday) along with their co-star Emma Stone.  Find out what Viola and Octavia had to say about their controversial roles in The Help to "EW" and TIME magazines....


Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer join their co-star Emma Stone on the cover of the latest Entertainment Weekly this week. 

In the mag, the trio discussed their new controversial film The Help which centers on household employees (i.e. black maids) who share stories about the families they work for in 1960s Jackson, MS.  But the movie has attracted  criticism for both Octavia and Viola who play "maids" in the movie.

While discussing her role in the film, Octavia said,

“I am thrilled to be playing this woman. She is a human being with the breadth and depth of emotions, and she is a contributing member of society. It should not be ‘Why is Viola Davis playing a maid in 2011?’ I think it should be ‘Viola Davis plays a maid and she gives the f—ing performance of her life.’”

And Viola also addressed the controversy saying,

 “There are few movies coming out this year with African-American women in them. Very few are being made. Black actresses have enough obstacles in our way without someone protesting an opportunity for us to show our work on screen. It’s one thing if you go see The Help and you don’t like it. But give it a chance!”


And Viola echos her own statements in an upcoming interview for TIME Magazine that hits stands tomorrow. She summed up the furor over the "maid" role saying, 

"The thing about the African-American community compared with the white community is, we are more concerned with image and message than execution,’ she says. ‘I don't play roles that are necessarily attractive or portray a positive image. They are well-rounded characters. When you squelch excellence to put out a message, it's like passing the baton and seeing it drop.’"

Sounds like Viola wants fans to know that these women are important characters and you have to look past their occupation to see the full picture. 

I hope it does well for them at the box office as its success could open more doors for Black actresses.






Anonymous's picture

The blend of comedy and drama

The blend of comedy and drama is unsettling. There was nothing funny about segregation. It's also a distortion o f history for Hollywood to keep producing movies about the era and depict white people saving black people. We, Black people, were are on saviors during the civil rights movement and we paid a heavy price for it. Our perspective has never been depicted in any Hollywood movie. Not ever!
Anonymous's picture

Look people the movie maybe

Look people the movie maybe good but why don't white women play maids? This is a black imagine that black women want to get away from. We want to look good too!! I am tired of black people playing maids, crooks and poor. Aren't you???
KC 2.0's picture

'The Help'. If the movie is

'The Help'. If the movie is mainly about the Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer who play 'The Help', then why can't they get a movie poster or magazine cover by themselves?
INTS's picture

It's because all three women

It's because all three women - Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer AND Emma Stone - play equally important lead roles. The book (and movie) is specifically centered around each of them. There's no reason to give Viola and Octavia a poster or magazine cover by themselves, simply because they were 'The Help'.
Anonymous's picture

...And by that I mean all

...And by that I mean all three women are worthy of being on the same cover of one magazine! No need to 'segregate'!
Anonymous's picture

My Mother was a nanny and

My Mother was a nanny and housekeeper during the early 60's for rich Jewish families in NY to pay for college. She went up there every Summer to make money and she put herself through school and was the only one out of 8 children to finish and get a degree. The problem that I have with the movie is the Lawsuit that was filed against the author of the book for not compensating the character for which this movie is based.
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Anonymous's picture

I agree with most of what

I agree with most of what Viola says but I take exception to the comment that AAs are more concerned with image than white people. White Hollywood is nothing less than obsess with the image they put before you on the screen.
Anonymous's picture

Why did they make her wear

Why did they make her wear that wig? That is all.
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Anonymous's picture

I will go see this movie. But

I will go see this movie. But let's be real. The issue at hand is that Hollywood development and studio execs are stuck in a time warp. They only stories they ACTIVELY greenlight are ones that take place in that time period. Unless you are Tyler Perry at Lionsgate, don't bring some Black version of Jason Bourne to an exec. They DON'T get it and will tell you NO audience wants to see "that" and it won't play "internationally." That's the REAL issue. I will see this movie because I want to see it. But I know the Hollywood system quite well. No one ever wants to talk about Hollywood's fascination with this time period. There will be LESS complaints about these actresses taking these type of roles if there were OTHER opportunities for them to shine.
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Anonymous's picture

This is a real life

This is a real life story...now if they didnt have a movie with black actresses you would be complaining. Viola is an amazing actress, so instead of criticizing the fact she is playing a maid be happy that she is getting work.
Anonymous's picture

I read the book and cant wait

I read the book and cant wait to see the movie.The time I was reading the book I thought of my grandmother and great grandmother.They both were and still are domestic workers.They loved thier employers and were loved back.The people they worked for did more than just give them checks on Friday.when I graduated college I received gifts from them.All the fundraising I did they donated.Chritmas we all received gifts.Most of all they were treated with respect on and off the job.
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Anonymous's picture

I read the book and it's

I read the book and it's amazing! these women had to over come the fear of losing their jobs and being shunned to help a friend. Don't go to the movies with one eye closed, this will be a great movie!
msmin23's picture

I concur, the book is really

I concur, the book is really good and I can't wait to see the movie
3481hollywood's picture

The comments on this post

The comments on this post span from quite inteligent to utterly ridiculous! If you have not read the book you cannot make such horrible comments about a movie that you have yet to even see! The maids in this book are the heart of the story. They are hard working and having families and build relationships with each other. The book tells the story of how one woman wanted the tell their story, what they had to go through to tell it, and what she learned about the people she knew from the point of view of the 'help'. Telling their story changed how she thinks and views the world. Now really. in 2011 do you think that these women would have taken a role showing them as maids that are bowing down to Massa? When was the last time there was even a role out there like that? Stop assuming everything is against us.
shanshils's picture

The controversy really isn't

The controversy really isn't over how good the movie or book is, or how talented the actresses are, its the fact that in 2011 the only big budget movie coming out with two black female characters has them featured as maids!! In 2011!! This is the kind of stuff that black actresses complained about in the 1930's! Are you guys kidding me for real? Am I the only person who sees a problem with this? I don't care how great the movie is.
Anonymous's picture

I agree. I don't care how

I agree. I don't care how great the book is, there are plenty of true stories about African American women that aren't playing maids, prostitutes or the chick on the side with no substance. Black women run companies, there are science, doctors, military pilots, Dr. Mae C. Jemison is the first African American female astronaut and the list goes on. Why doesn't anyone want to make a movie about the first African American millionaire, Madame CJ. Walker, or African American women that served this country in the military during WWII? Im sure no one would want to make a movie about our countries first African American First Lady right? In real life, African American women have played important and pivotal roles in this countries history and the only types of roles available for us in movies in 2011 is a maid?? Really??? I won't be going to see it, don't need to read the book. This story has been told countless times on t.v and the big screen, this storyn is old and played out.
Melody's picture

Your “I’m better than that”

Your “I’m better than that” thinking is exactly why we are “still” playing maids and thugs. I’m a bit older than most of the readers of this site and remember well the “Black Power” era. The problem was and still is Black People won’t support one another to gather the power to be able to call all the shots on the roles we play, so we will continue to play roles like this.
DeeSC's picture

Oh please people! You people

Oh please people! You people on here kill me! I could see if she was playing a maid and the movie was set in the 2000's. She's playing a woman from the 1960's!!! OMG! Why is it not controversial for the White ppl in the same movie to be racist? Clearly, racism should not exist now, but it did and they are tackling a specific issue that was relevant to its time period.
Tiff 's picture

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3481hollywood's picture

I don't get how these roles

I don't get how these roles are controversial when they are playing people that actually existed. Many Black women used to be maids, so how in the hell is that controversy? It's an ugly part of our history that should be told. WHo better than Viola Davis who brings depth to all of her roles.
Tiff 's picture

I'm very interested in the

I'm very interested in the movie, can't wait to see it. This movie is based on someon'es reality even if its in past times. I think to concentrate on the fact that they were maids, and/or mistreated is to miss something great. They're are many other facets to the characters, in the midst of turmoil triump shines through too. You can see their strength and other redeeming qualities as well. And in the end they got to tell their story, to share their experiences, which is what the movie is ultimately about. We can't run from history, so let's embrace the past, learn from it, and continue to expand as a people and nation inspite of it.
3481hollywood's picture

Whatever, this is a movie I

Whatever, this is a movie I won't be going to see. I watched the trailer and hated it, I already know how it'll go. The maids will be mistreated horribly, lose their jobs and all kinds of stuff and then get back at the mean white women by quitting on the day of their dinner party or something stupid and now, gasp, these white southern belles will have to cook for themselves! That'll teach them cause it will take at least 2 days to replace the maid! *rolls eyes* Meanwhile it'll take the maid about 2 years to replace her job. That's the kind of ish that makes you long for a Tyler Perry double feature. These movie studios seem to love these movies where they can put Blacks in degrading roles or better yet they like period pieces like in ancient Rome so they can avoid having black people in the movie at all.
Twilightey's picture

Actually you're completely

Actually you're completely wrong & if you read the book then you wouldn't make the comments you made. Not all of the maids were treated horribly, fired etc. This is why we don't see our people on the big screen because instead of making an opinion about something you have no CLUE about you assume & you know what they say about people that assume.
Camryn's picture

@ Twillightey, You are

@ Twillightey, You are speaking the truth.. Peolple are comfortable with black women in the mammy role, they always have been.. Aunt Jemimah and Uncle Ben going to Uncle Toms Cabin. Lol!
Melody's picture

Wow. I think if YOU wrote the

Wow. I think if YOU wrote the movie with that terrible plot it would be a piece of crap. I haven't seen it but know it will be NOTHING like how you think it will be. Word of advice: Don't EVER think of writing books or movies. Just wow.
Chantayk's picture

Wow. the movie is about the

Wow. the movie is about the trial and tribulations of black women in this time period and is not dergrading. Its about the past which cant be denied! It shows strong black women OVERCOMING! Read something other than blogs such as the actual book this was adapted from and you would know this dumbass...
Anonymous's picture

I am well read, at least

I am well read, at least enough not to have as many spelling and grammar errors in my comment as you have. But I won't make it personal,, only people with little to no lives do that. I have no interest in the movie, I'm not handing out fliers dissuading others from going to see it. I stated my opinion. Go see it 12 times with 24 of your friends for all I care. Yes this, or something like it, happened in history and all that and maybe if this was just one of many types of movies starring women of color it wouldn't be such a bother to me other than being a boring movie I have no interest in. But we don't get to be portrayed but so often and are still very stereotyped into roles. I stand by my words. Movies and tv shows set back in history are always focused on european history, like Rome, The Tudors, Troy, etc...I enjoy those but what about everyone else's history? Where's a movie celebrating Hannibal, who was from North Africa and is celebrated as being a great conquerer. Or Shaka Zulu, that movie hasn't been made since the 80's, I could list at least 10 more examples but this comment would be too long. Suffice it to say the world has been around for a long time and accumulated lots of history. But we keep having these same stories over and over and over again and I'm not going to accept anything thrown at me because there's a black person in it. What's up next, a remake of Roots? I can't wait for Zoe Saldana's movie Columbiana to come out, finally a woman of color in something different.
Twilightey's picture

If only the "opinion" you

If only the "opinion" you stated were true.... You previously gave a completely INACCURATE synopsis of a storyline you know absolutely nothing about. Atleast educate yourself on the subject matter before you attempt to have an opinion on it!
LNP's picture

If only your "opinion" were

If only your "opinion" were an accurate one! You gave a completely INACCURATE synopsis of a movie that is based on a book you know nothing about!
LNP's picture

@anonymous Co-sighning for

@anonymous Co-sighning for real, Do you get the feeling that the movie studio has got it's trolls out trying to go on AA websites to try and convince us African American women to go and see the movie? I see the same old comments on how wonderful the book is, and how people can't wait to see it, and how interesting that a whit publication is hyping this type of movie?? They didn't hype The Hurricane, or Malcolm X, and you know they hate Tyler Perry. This is another Blind Side movie. They love em!! And they are trying to make us love em too! Not!
Melody's picture

Thank you!!

Thank you!!
Chantayk's picture

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Anonymous's picture

Read the real truth behind

Read the real truth behind the author....who's being sued by their actual family housekeeper. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/18/books/18help.html I can't believe some people are actually supporting this...
Teeze's picture

Coming from a family of

Coming from a family of housekeepers, I cannot wait to see this movie. Go Viola and Octavia!!! Apologize to no man or woman
bahamasfilmgirl's picture

Absolutley cannot wait to see

Absolutley cannot wait to see this movie!
Anonymous's picture

Nice cover. The movie looks

Nice cover. The movie looks good and I will check it out.
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necib's picture

Alot of comments and

Alot of comments and criticisms about Viola and Octavia acting out the roles of "The Help" are probably from people who have not read the book. This movie is a comedy and will be based on nothing but satire....not some cotton-picking, railroad-working documentary about the sufferage of blacks at the hands of Massa. The women in the book play pivotal roles and developed ground-breaking relationships unheard of during the early '60s in Mississippi. They were maids, but they were also confidantes who were respected. Read the book or watch the film before you form an opinion!
LNP's picture

I suggest you re-read the

I suggest you re-read the book and see the film. I've read the book and attended a preview a few weeks ago. There's nothing satirical or comedic about either.
NekeT's picture

There's no need for me to

There's no need for me to re-read the book before seeing the film, Dear. My thoughts are based on personal perception. The novel (and the movie) in my opinion, is (will be) light-hearted in comparison to the mood of the many racially-charged films presented by Hollywood... The issues these women dealt with were (are) REAL. Deep-rooted and controversial. Heart-wrenching at times, BUT, there were certain aspects of it that made me smile. Other moments made me laugh. (Minnie's sassy character saw to that!) Some people see the glass as half full. Others choose to see it as half empty...... LIFE!
LNP's picture

They even have the white girl

They even have the white girl on top on the cover!!!
Anonymous's picture

It's awful that this cover is

It's awful that this cover is used to talk bat stereotypes! When does a white womn ever have to defend the roles she plays???? NEVER! I am a black woman and I could care less what other black people think about the choices I make for my life...she needed the money to pay for whatever, and that's the end of it...just like the white women
Anonymous's picture

I can see why some people

I can see why some people would be upset. If your ancestors were maids, your parents were maids and now you are a maid, I would be mad too. You failed to move up in life and now this movie is a reminder of your lack of progress. History is history, good or bad, you cannot run from it. It is better to embrace and see how far you've come rather than get bashful because talented women are telling the tales of brave women who lived through that era.
Miss J's picture

Maybe you women that want to

Maybe you women that want to see this movie can clean up the theatre after seeing the movie, since cleaning up after others is in your blood.
Melody's picture

Cleaning up a movie theatre?

Cleaning up a movie theatre? No. But if God forbid you made it to the Emergency Room where I am the attending, you, yourself, may require a little cleaning before being treated........ *smile*
LNP's picture

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