Reviews for Finding Me

by Viola Davis

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The life story of an actor whose success has been shaped by grit and determination. In a starkly forthright memoir, Oscar and Tony winner Davis reflects on family, love, motherhood, and acting. Born in South Carolina on a plantation where her grandparents had been sharecroppers, she grew up in dire poverty in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Her father was a physically abusive alcoholic, and the family lived in a rat-infested apartment where they often had no heat or hot water. Besides being taunted by her classmates for being Black, she was shunned because she smelled, often of urine. As she writes, she wet the bed until she was 14. “I was an awkward, angry, hurt, traumatized kid,” Davis writes. “I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling and nobody asked. I didn’t believe anybody cared. I was saturated in shame.” Inspired by seeing Cicely Tyson on TV, Davis wanted to become an actor—a goal that seemed far out of reach. But an acting coach in an Upward Bound program encouraged her, and she won a scholarship to Rhode Island College. After graduating with a theater degree, Davis worked tirelessly to hone her craft, both by performing and studying. At Juilliard, she bristled, at first, at their Eurocentric approach. A trip to Africa, when she was 25, energized her. Early in her career, Davis was discouraged about the stereotypical roles she was offered, most for “drug-addicted mothers.” Later, she writes, “I did a huge slate of what I call ‘best friends to white women’ roles.” For years, money worries dogged her. Even when working in theater, movies, and TV, she needed to supplement her income, and always, her family’s financial straits weighed heavily. Therapy finally helped Davis face the generational trauma that created her sense of “emotional abandonment.” About her professional triumphs, the author is modest: “It’s an eenie, meenie, miny, mo game of luck, relationships, chance, how long you’ve been out there, and sometimes talent.” An unvarnished chronicle of hard-won, well-earned success. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Davis is the first African American actress to achieve an Academy Award, an Emmy, and two Tony Awards, the “triple crown of acting.” Still, few know the paths she took to overcome a complicated past and find purpose in her life. Finding Me is a reflective memoir about her childhood and college years in Central Falls, Rhode Island, studying at Juilliard, and her early acting years in New York City. Davis closely examines how she dealt with poverty, domestic abuse, molestation, and racism throughout her early years. As a teenager, acting became a vehicle that helped her release childhood trauma. Yet, because she experienced so much pain, she could not understand self-love, nor could she ever feel worthy of any of her accomplishments. Still, she did thrive, due to her close bond with her family, especially her sisters, along with tremendous support from educators, acting coaches, and friends. Davis gives readers hope, encouraging us to look back and embrace childhood dreams or failures, let go of shame, and move forward to become the best version of ourselves. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Davis' legions of fans will be eager to read and talk about her candid, challenging, and inspiring memoir.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The life story of an actor whose success has been shaped by grit and determination.In a starkly forthright memoir, Oscar and Tony winner Davis reflects on family, love, motherhood, and acting. Born in South Carolina on a plantation where her grandparents had been sharecroppers, she grew up in dire poverty in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Her father was a physically abusive alcoholic, and the family lived in a rat-infested apartment where they often had no heat or hot water. Besides being taunted by her classmates for being Black, she was shunned because she smelled, often of urine. As she writes, she wet the bed until she was 14. I was an awkward, angry, hurt, traumatized kid, Davis writes. I couldnt articulate what I was feeling and nobody asked. I didnt believe anybody cared. I was saturated in shame. Inspired by seeing Cicely Tyson on TV, Davis wanted to become an actora goal that seemed far out of reach. But an acting coach in an Upward Bound program encouraged her, and she won a scholarship to Rhode Island College. After graduating with a theater degree, Davis worked tirelessly to hone her craft, both by performing and studying. At Juilliard, she bristled, at first, at their Eurocentric approach. A trip to Africa, when she was 25, energized her. Early in her career, Davis was discouraged about the stereotypical roles she was offered, most for drug-addicted mothers. Later, she writes, I did a huge slate of what I call best friends to white women roles. For years, money worries dogged her. Even when working in theater, movies, and TV, she needed to supplement her income, and always, her familys financial straits weighed heavily. Therapy finally helped Davis face the generational trauma that created her sense of emotional abandonment. About her professional triumphs, the author is modest: Its an eenie, meenie, miny, mo game of luck, relationships, chance, how long youve been out there, and sometimes talent.An unvarnished chronicle of hard-won, well-earned success. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Tony and Oscar–winning actor Davis gives a master class in triumphing over poverty and despair in her soul-baring debut. Born in 1965, Davis became intimate with destitution, dysfunction, and abuse at a young age, growing up with an alcoholic father, and living off welfare checks in 1970s Central Falls, R.I. Inspired by the “true power of artistry” she watched Cicely Tyson display on TV, Davis took up acting, and, with the encouragement of an acting coach from a college prep program, won a scholarship to Rhode Island College. “Achieving became my idea of being alive,” Davis writes as she recounts honing her craft at Juilliard, before embarking on a trip to Gambia that transformed her and helped her celebrate her Blackness. Though her success didn’t come overnight, years of hard work led Davis to break out of the stereotypical “eye-rolling, ambiguous sidekick” roles that she bemoans Black women actors are often cast in, and win a 2014 Emmy at age 47 for her role in Shonda Rhimes’s How to Get Away with Murder. Even with her accomplishments, Davis is frank about the acting world’s shortcomings, where, she writes, “womanhood is defined by how ‘classically’ pretty you are... how close to white you are.” Davis’s grit and determination are moving, and her unflinching reckoning with the “racism and misogyny” she faced in Hollywood makes her story of overcoming all the more effective. Fans will be utterly enthralled. (Apr.)

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