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This is not the first time that Viola Davis has taken on tough matters in a feature film. The Tony Award winning, Oscar nominated star of The Help , is all too familiar with controversy, when it comes to the roles that she chooses to play . This time around Davis takes on the role of a concerned parent, fighting the public school system , opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal, in Won’t Back Down. Although, a very positive role for an African American woman to portray, the cast and crew were met with opposition as they interviewed for the Today Show on Monday. The issue for protestors, outside of the studio, was the portrayal of the teacher’s union in the film. The protesters feel that charter schools are not the answer to the US’s failing school system.
Viola Davis has been very open and welcomed the protesters concerns saying , “I welcome protests. I welcome discourse; I think discourse is a good thing. I think it spearheads change…. And you know what, in this movie the teacher at the end of the day is the hero. They save the day. And it’s a system that’s broken, that needs to be fixed.” The film’s director , David Barnz, told The Observer , “The whole movie is about the benefits of protesting. There are many scenes of protesting in the film. I happen to know that what they’re protesting is different from what the movie is actually about. They’re here protesting parent trigger laws and as I explained to you this is not a parent trigger movie.”
Won’t Back Down is the other side of the story. This movie is a call to action, not only for the teachers, but a direct call to action for parents, to get involved and stay involved in the guidance and education of their children. It illustrates the importance of standing up for what you believe in and making a difference. For the movie itself, this could not be a better time, as NBC’s Education Nation Summit is underway in New York City.
For Davis this is just another testament to the extraordinary actress’s courage to tackle the more pressing and important social issues through her craft. It not only makes her a beautiful role model and voice for African American actresses that strive to follow in her footsteps, but it makes her a beautiful role model for all women.
Asa Lovechild is an accomplished actress and singer out of New York City.