When Viola Davis rocked her natural hair on the 2012 Oscars red carpet, it was a pretty big deal. With motivation from her husband, Julius Tennon, to “step into who you are,” the actress ditched the perfectly coiffed wigs and instead wore a crown of tight copper curls. Embracing her unique beauty — with or without wigs — is a lesson the Academy Award-winning actress had to learn over time.
At the L.A. launch for Vaseline’s Cocoa Radiant Body Butter, Davis tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she used to want Oprah’s hair and Diana Ross‘s body. However, she is teaching her daughter, Genesis, not “to grow up wanting someone’s everything.”
This proves to be a bit challenging whenever the 6-year-old wants to dress up as a white Disney princess or comic-book character. But when trying to convince Genesis to wear her natural hair and not a wig, Davis says, “I really push it. I push it.”
As she explains, “I say, ‘You gotta wear your hair exactly the way it is. You can be Wonder Woman, but you gotta be Wonder Woman with your hair. You can be Elsa, but you gotta be Elsa with your hair.’”
The 52-year-old star reinforces this message with illustrated children’s books, such as I Love My Cotton Candy Hair and I Like Myself!, that paint positive images of young black girls with kinky tendrils and brown skin.
“You can do all of that stuff if you start with the palette of loving who you are,” says Davis. It obviously makes sense to Genesis, as she chose to “keep her ‘fro” when donning a full-on Wonder Woman costume, which her mother showed off on Instagram.
When reflecting on her own upbringing, being born in South Carolina and raised in Rhode Island, there’s one thing Davis wishes someone told her: “I am enough.”
She adds, “If someone had told me that just time and time again … oh, my God! I would’ve had a completely different childhood. And my childhood was good, even with all the pain and poverty. But it would’ve been even better.”
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