"The Woman King" movie was a year-long push to get made, and for star Viola Davis, that effort paid off.
"We're at the center of the narrative. You know, Black women, dark-skinned black women, crinkly haired, Black women. You know, there is no white savior. We're no one's best friend. We have our autonomy, our agency in this. And it's a hell of a story that is—it's not just an action movie. It's a historical drama and it allows us to humanize women who have typically not been humanized. It is very much the actors in the movie have experienced some of the same thing that the characters have of feeling unwanted, feeling not desired, feeling not adored, sort of the throwaways, but yet finding that strength within themselves to be a warrior. It is both feminine, strong, all of those things. It is, it literally is for me, the movie that's defined my career."
The Oscar-winning actress said she feels intense pressure and conflicting emotions, because she knows the movie's performance will be judged in a way that films with white directors and casts are not.
Viola Davis is proud that the movie was even made, citing how difficult it is for films with a predominately Black cast especially a cast led by Black women.
"We don't have enough hours, enough days to describe how hard it is to get films made in Hollywood with Black people in it, but especially Black women. There are no words to quantify it. And I wish that there were microphones in the room. I wish there were cameras in the room so you could see what the day-to-day fight is and you would understand that this is something to be celebrated."
The movie is a $50 million action epic, set in 1820s West Africa, about the all-female army of the Kingdom of Dahomey.
With a Black female director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and a majority Black and female cast, it will open in more than 3,000 domestic theaters, with a budget including marketing that reportedly approaches $100 million.
Davis, the only African-American to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony, spent six years trying to get "The Woman King" made, with studios and producers reluctant to take the plunge.