FILMS

Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis Talk Taking On Major Roles Despite Being Fearful

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When you put six Emmy contenders around a table to discuss sexism, agism and Hollywood, what do you get? Truth and honesty!

Primetime actresses, Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, Jessica Lange, Lizzy Caplan, Ruth Wilson and Maggie Gyllenhaal joined each other for an exclusive Hollywood Reporter round table discussion about being successful women in the entertainment industry.

But what fans might not have known is that stepping into their respective roles on their respective primetime shows came with much fear. “I’ve never seen a 39-year-old, dark skinned woman who is not a size 2 be a sexualized role in TV/film ever,” said Davis, who stars as Annalise Keating on ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder. “But to say it was fear would be an understatement. It was bigger than fear.”

Davis went on to tell the women that she was “mortified” when she saw herself in the pilot episode. “I saw the fake eyelashes, I saw the wig. I thought ‘are you kidding me, who is going to believe this?’ My big aha moment was ‘this is your moment to not typecast yourself. To actually play a woman who is sexualized.'”

For Henson, her fear stepping into the shoes of Cookie Lyon on Fox’s Empire was simply: People might not like Cookie. “I got nervous,” she said about reading the script for the first time. “Cookie is so bigger than life. It can go either way. You can either love her or hate her. I was petrified. For me that fear meant it’s a challenge that I had to take on. If it doesn’t shake me up, then why am I doing it.”

Click to see more video of the lovely women.

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