Actress Viola Davis has landed her first ever beauty contract at the age of 54, after being signed up as the newest spokeswoman and ambassador for L’Oréal.
And as she announced her new role, the Oscar-winning South Carolina-born star spoke candidly about how achieving fame so late into her acting career helped her to develop a thick skin and build up her self-worth and self-belief.
The mom-of-one added that she has suffered from low self-esteem for her entire life, but said that she hopes to inspire others by adding a beauty campaign to her impressive resume, sharing: ‘As someone who is, self-proclaimed, “not a classic beauty”, my ultimate hope is that women out there are inspired by my image.’
She’s worth it! Actress Viola Davis, 54, is named as L’Oréal newest A-list beauty ambassador
Inspiration: The celebrated thesp said she is ‘humbled’ to join the brand’s ads, and wants to portray that there is ‘beauty at every age’
Earlier in her career, Viola said she felt a lot of pressure to conform to the traditional notion of ‘being pretty’.
‘It almost felt like a prerequisite to success,’ she said of looking a certain way.
Then: Pictured is Viola, aged 37 before she became a household name, at a movie premiere in Hollywood in 2002
‘In order to succeed, you had to meet these impossible standards. Now I am much more secure in how I am, but there was a time that I did feel those pressures and succumb to them to a degree.’
‘I suffered from low self-esteem all my life, and it still does surface, albeit less frequently,’ Viola also revealed.
‘When I exercise and stay committed to my routine, I really do find that my mental and physical condition is at its best.
‘I feel more confident, healthier and clear-headed. It does wonders for my self-esteem as a result,’ she added.
Activist and humanitarian Viola said she was ‘humbled’ to become an ambassador for the global beauty brand.
‘I hope to convey that there is beauty to every age.
‘Youthfulness is beauty in its most obvious sense, there’s classical beauty, but with age and experience comes confidence – and there is nothing more beautiful to radiate than that,’ she noted.
Viola spoke honestly about how achieving success late in her career – when she was in her 40s – helped her define her personal character.
‘The fact that I didn’t see immediate success in my career in the traditional sense forced me to develop a thick skin, and to rally my sense of self-worth time and time to keep auditioning, getting on stage and honing my craft.
Pressure: Viola, left in 2001, and right in 2009, admitted she felt pressured by Hollywood’s beauty standards early on in her career
Throwback: Viola, left in 2000 and right in 2004, came to prominence late in her career, something she said allowed her to develop a ‘thick skin’ and her sense of self-worth
‘What I didn’t realize until years later was that all of that time and effort compounded itself into this unwavering belief in myself and my own abilities and opinions that I now wouldn’t trade for the world.’
The Help actress added, ‘When you reach a certain age, the playing field is leveled in terms of looks and what you’re left with is your self-worth and how you impact others. I want people to realize that this is the only thing that stands the test of time.’
For her role with the beauty giant, Viola joins an esteemed roster of diverse spokespeople including Celine Dion, 51, Helen Mirren, 74, Eva Longoria, 44, Elle Fanning, 21, and Aja Naomi King, 34.
According to L’Oréal, the appointment builds on the brand’s mission to reflect the diversity of the modern world through spokeswomen, encouraging beauty inclusivity, self-worth and empowering people everywhere.
Viola is mom to daughter Genesis Tennon, seven, whom she adopted with her husband Julius in 2011. (She is also stepmother to Julius’ son and daughter from previous relationships.)
‘I am very open with my daughter about all aspects of life. She knows she is fortunate, which is something I remind her about very often,’ Viola said.
Fun: The South Carolina-born actress who regularly plays very serious roles, pictured in November 2018, said people would probably be surprised to know how ‘fun’ she is at home
Mom: Viola makes sure to tell seven-year-old daughter Genesis with husband Julius Tennon that she can be anything she wants in life and that she’s worth more than just her looks
‘She’s very blessed, but I try to make sure she knows she is more than just pretty. I always tell my daughter she can be anything she wants to be. I know this sounds like a cliche, but it’s so true. As women, we need to step into our power and not give it over to anyone or apologize for having dreams, a vision or a voice.’
When asked what would probably surprise people about her, Viola said that she feels people would never guess that she is ‘fun’.
‘I’m fun, I have a wicked sense of humor and love hosting parties at my home. I love, love to dance,’ she said.
Viola is the first black actor to win a ‘triple crown’: an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and a Tony Award.
Viola is currently starring as Annalise Keating in legal drama How To Get Away With Murder.
As the sixth and final season of the hit show premieres later this month, Viola said that she is ‘proud’ that her body of work will benefit future stars.
‘I am most proud of the work I have done that has laid a groundwork for future black women in Hollywood. Simply put: roles like Annalise Keating just didn’t exist years ago, and now they do. To have been a part of that shift is so powerful and humbling.’