Viola Davis Reveals Battle With Childhood Hunger in Emotional Interview

Viola Davis
 Mark Seliger

Telling her tale. Viola Davis opened up in an emotional new interview with Glamour magazine, revealing the battle she went through as a child in a low-income family, which often didn't have enough food to put on the table.

"We had no food," the Oscar-nominated actress, 49, told the magazine of her childhood. She spoke about her parents, revealing that her mother only completed the eighth grade, while her father worked as a horse groomer with his fifth-grade education. 

The How to Get Away with Murder star detailed the bleak conditions she grew up in when the family moved to Rhode Island, and focused particularly on her family's hunger. Davis explained that upon the arrival of each month's welfare check, there would be food in the home, but it wouldn't be there for long.

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"It was like, If you don’t eat it now, it’ll be gone, and you’re going to be hungry for the next — Lord, who knows how long?" she said. Davis, who grew up with five siblings, went on to add that the hunger posed a problem for her at school. "I was always so hungry and ashamed, I couldn’t tap into my potential," she explained. "I couldn't get at the business of being me."

Taking inspiration from her own experience, Davis is now working with the Hunger Is campaign, raising money with the Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to fight hunger.  

"This is the richest country in the world," Davis said. "There’s no reason kids should be going to school hungry. Food is something that everyone should have. It just is."

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The veteran star, who was nominated at this year's Golden Globes for her work on How to Get Away with Murder, said that as she fights for children to avoid the experience that she went through, she's come to accept her own past. 

"I'm finally comfortable with my story," she spilled. "I finally understand what [mythologist] Joseph Campbell meant when he said: 'The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.'"

Married for almost 12 years to actor Julius Tennon, Davis told Glamour that she is instilling her values in her daughter Genesis, 4, whom she and Tennon adopted in 2011. 

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"I tell my daughter every morning, 'Now, what are the two most important parts of you?'" Davis began. "She says, 'My head and my heart.' Because that's what I've learned in the foxhole: What gets you through life is strength of character and strength of spirit and love."

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