The Heartbreaking Reason Viola Davis Only Has 1 Photo From Her Childhood

For many actors and actresses like Viola Davis, performing onstage or on camera is an escape from the real world.

Like millions of other Americans, Davis was born impoverished, and that circumstance was why she only had a single picture of herself as a kid. But it was also the reason why she became an actress.

Viola Davis’ rough childhood

Viola Davis
Viola Davis | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Davis told People that she was born in a small shack on her grandmother’s farm, which had been a slave plantation in the past. She and her family soon moved up north in search of a better life.

Davis and her family settled in Rhode Island, and lived in horrid conditions. Davis described how her home was falling apart.

She said that the boards were falling out of the walls, the plumbing didn’t work a lot of the time, and there were rats everywhere. And like millions of other people, she and her family also struggled with being hungry for many days of the week, but that was not the least of their problems. 

She mentioned in her interview with People that the rats in their home were so pervasive that they’d eat the faces off of her dolls. Davis’s family even had to cover their necks with a rag at night so that the rats wouldn’t bite them. 

Because of these conditions, Davis’s family simply couldn’t afford to have a camera, and that’s why, unlike many other film stars, she only has one picture of herself from her childhood. Even then, Davis mentioned how she, at the time of that picture, felt blessed by God for all the gifts she had in life.

Davis used acting to escape her past

Davis had to deal with rats picking away at her home and at her toys, but she also had to deal with bullies picking on her at school.

Despite all of that, Davis realized early on that this wasn’t the life for her. Like she said in her interview with People, she understood as a kid that people like her are ignored by the world. 

That’s why Davis chose to not be invisible to the world, but rather, to be the complete opposite. She chose acting as an escape from her poverty, and that motivation, as well as her talent and dedication to the craft, allowed her to become the Oscar winner that she is today.

Davis is now an Oscar-winning actress

Davis went from growing up in abject poverty to being worth millions. She went from being voted the most talented person in her high school to being voted as the Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars. 

Not only that, but her success isn’t just isolated to movies, she’s done plenty of work on TV and on theatre as well. In fact, according to Time, because she’s won an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony, she’s the first black woman to win the Triple Crown of acting. 

She hasn’t just found success and praise for her acting skills either, she’s also working for lucrative franchises like the DC Extended Universe and that should provide her with steady and profitable work in the future.

However, Davis doesn’t allow herself to forget where she came from. She remarked in her interview with People that her tough childhood allows her to be thankful for everything she has right now, no matter how much she has.