Beautiful and brutal is how one would describe Finding Me by Viola Davis. Sharing the hard truths of her childhood, being open to change in her parents, embarrassments from foresight, even joyful relationships are perfectly captured in Davis’ memoir. She allows her voice, as true to herself and her memories as she can be, to dictate the organization of this work. While most of stories are organized chronologically, Davis does frequently return to moments in the future when the events call for it. It’s practice that not only completes stories in their fullest form, but opens the page to Davis’ character.
As a young adult, I struggle to remember a time when Davis was not, in some way, an ethereal part of the cinema and entertainment I consumed. Law & Order, The Help, Suicide Squad, How to Get Away with Murder, or Madea Goes to Jail, she seemed to be a permanent fixture of this world. However, from her biography, I not only learned the struggle for an education or survival that Davis endured, but the struggle of the artistic grind. She took whatever role she could get since she graduated college. It wasn’t until she was 31 that Davis received her first major break with a play of August Wilson’s and a part in The Substance of Fire. When one breaks that math down, Davis had worked, attended Juilliard, and cared for her parents for over a decade before making it big. I think time when overnight success is more common, as videos randomly go viral at the whim of an algorithm, and opportunities seem to sproud out of thin air for many, that hearing about the success from pure work is a cultural necessity. Not to mention the beauty in the words and the brutality in the honest and stories. Finding Me is an important cultural artifact that should be read for years to come.
For those looking to break from a negative family cycle, for those wondering if the grind is ever worth it, for those who need a reminder that work on one’s self graduates to benefits in one’s relationships, this book is for any of those types of people and many more. This book is simply for people who love Viola Davis, admire her, want to support her, or just want to know more about her. This book does a lot more than tell her story. It showcases a story that remains an integral stitch of the fabric of our society. Don’t just find Viola Davis, find her book on shelves near you.