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WOMEN+POWER 2023: Viola Davis

Adorned in a resplendent white gown and an oversized white feather coat, Viola Davis graced the 76th annual Cannes Film Festival red carpet with elegance and grace. With a halo of naturally textured curls and a radiant smile, she effortlessly commanded attention at the premiere of “Monster,” bringing traffic to a standstill. But it was not just Davis’ outward appearance that captivated onlookers; she also shared candid reflections on beauty standards and the pressing need for their continual evolution.

“I think beauty standards have changed,” said Davis, per People’s exclusive red carpet interview. “I think that what’s shifted is that whole idea of mental health being associated with beauty [and] of understanding who we are beyond male desirability.”

The L’Oreal Paris international spokeswoman shared that this phenomenon initially drew her toward the partnership. The brand’s “I’m worth it” slogan resonated with the star, who once felt hurt by societal beauty standards. 

“What destroyed me was people constantly telling me that I was not beautiful,” she said. “[You might think] why would you be upset with that? Because beauty is attached with worth and value. And I refuse to believe that I’m not worth it just based on a sort of idea and perception of what people think classical beauty is,” Davis stated emphatically.

Noting that in the past, women hid their pain “behind perfectly applied lipsticks and wax floors,” Davis said she is proud to advocate for women who are unapologetic about who they are “beyond the makeup and the hair.” Hence, Davis and her husband, “Air” co-star Julius Tennon, encourage their 12-year-old daughter, Genesis, to discuss her feelings openly in hopes that she not only feels supported by her parents but also understands how to advocate for herself. 


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