Viola Davis, star of ABC’s hit series How to Get Away with Murder, grew up in Rhode Island in a household of eight that could barely afford to eat even one meal a day. In a revealing interview with AARP The Magazine, Davis shares her thoughts on the crippling effects that growing up poor and hungry have on young people today and relates it back to her early years, when she faced the same adversity. Additionally, from the love she now shares with her husband and young daughter to the luxuries she never dreamed of affording, the two-time Oscar nominee reflects on her achievements, biggest anxieties and the determination that has led to her greatest successes.
On growing up poor and the hatred that people projected towards her because of it:
"Most of the time, the school lunch was the only meal I had. I would befriend kids whose mothers cooked three meals a day and go to their homes when I could."
“People would throw things out of cars and call us the N-word. It was constant.”
On the things she has now that she thought she’d never have:
"Having a house! When you grow up poor, you dream of just having a home, and a bed that’s clean—that’s a sanctuary. Having a really great husband, a child who’s healthy and happy and brings me joy — all of that has been my dream."
“As kids, we often didn’t have bus fare, so to have a car today — it’s unbelievable to me.”
On being asked to be the spokesperson for the “Hunger Is” campaign (hungeris.org):
"I’ve been so focused on my child, my husband and my career that I never thought of the last step, which is giving back."
For the complete interview, along with behind-the-scenes video and images, check out aarp.org/magazine.