When Viola Davis partnered with Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to introduce the Hunger Is initiative to eradicate childhood hunger earlier this year, her experience became just as emotionally purifying as it was uplifting.
“You just never know when a blessing is going to come,” Davis says. “And speaking for those 15 minutes (when she launched the initiative) kind of opened my eyes and made me just remember a part of my childhood. There was something really cathartic about being there.”
Working on Hunger Is has allowed the “How to Get Away With Murder” star to come to terms with her own struggles with memories of poverty during her youth in Central Falls, R.I., as well as educate her on the varying types of American families who cannot always afford to eat.
“I just thought it was something that I experienced in my childhood,” says Davis. “I didn’t know that one in every five children lives in a household that has food issues and doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. And they’re not all poor. A lot of them are food poor. After they pay the electric and the rent, they don’t have enough left over for food.”
Williams+Hirakawa for Variety
Hunger Is tries to rectify America’s hunger epidemic through educational outreach, by working with volunteers and through collecting donations. Davis’ participation not only raises public awareness about the problem but also shows what can happen given the chance to overcome it.
“I always say that the little girl who is hungry is always with me,” she says. “I feel like why not use any kind of power I have to serve. There’s a famous saying that ‘to serve is to love.’ I don’t want my tombstone to just say I was a series regular and Oscar nominee.”