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Book Review

Book Review: Finding Me by Viola Davis

It is an arduous task to strive for acceptance.

But this is who you are—nappy hair, brown eyes, brown skin, wide nose, deep voice, big-boned. This is how you were born. You have no power to influence or change that.

This is what you encountered—a cramped abode, toilets that won’t flush, rats, scarce food, dirty water, and a lack of household toiletries like detergent to wash your clothes and the bed linens that your siblings wet because you all had to find space in the limited sleeping area.

It’s difficult to find belonging, but even more so to discover who you are.

White privilege has always existed, no matter how much we want to ignore it. Beauty standards favor fairer skin, smaller and classical (read: whiter) features in a woman. In media and theater, a certain look often gets you further than having talent.

Finding Me by Viola Davis is a moving and inspiring memoir that takes you inside the life of one of Hollywood’s top actresses. Her journey from a tough childhood in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to becoming an award-winning star, isn’t the regular grass-to-grace stories you’re familiar with. This is notches higher.

Her story is raw and honest, detailing her experiences with poverty, racism, and an abusive household. Despite these challenges, Viola’s incredible resilience and determination to achieve her dreams is solely because of one reason– she had no choice but to succeed! Her childhood poverty traumatized her and she had to break free.


I read Viola Davis’s book and immediately searched for everything about her: who her parents were, and who Dianne, Deloris, Anita, and Danielle are. I even looked up the face of her brother John, who abused her. I found old photos that brought her narration to life in my mind, allowing me to put faces to names and places.

That’s what a good book does to you—it makes you want more answers, to corroborate the stories, and bring the narrative to life.

I love watching Viola on the screen, but I love reading her even more. Recently, she and her husband launched a publishing company. Additionally, Viola now has her own Barbie doll in her color, with her face and hair. I can’t decide which of these achievements is more touching. She is not just an accomplished actress and movie producer, but also an author with a beautiful prose style about her life. By launching a publishing house, she is giving more authors a platform to tell their stories. Imagine a dirt-poor, bullied, and timid Black girl who fought her demons for years now having a doll that looks like her. Beauty standards are fleeting and flimsy. There is a beautiful imperfection in every human, and by creating a Black, nappy-haired doll, the message is loud and clear: you are gorgeous in your own right. Let no one define you by your looks. That beauty privilege exists is regrettable because no one should have to strive for acceptance based on parameters they have no control over—such as race, looks, gender, complexion, hair, or the home they came from.

Finding Me is a memoir celebrating resilience, self-discovery, and the power of self-acceptance.

A solid book!

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