Dear Ms. Davis
Congratulations on your many awards. You appear to be a genuinely nice person and obviously extremely talented. You have created a successful and powerful career for yourself through hard work and perseverance, rising up from extreme poverty; enduring racism and misogyny along the way. Yes, you certainly deserve to win all of these wonderful accolades but when I saw your speech at the Oscars the other night something you said made me stop and say, “Viola? Is that you?” It was this line that did it, “I became an artist and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”
I know you didn’t mean to say “only” because “only” is a word that sets the stage (excuse the pun) for the devaluing of other people. It is an exclusionary term and one that I am sure you must have encountered many, many times throughout your own life. “Only men, only white people, only tall, short, thin, beautiful, young, rich…” I know caught up in the moment you said “… the ONLY ones that celebrate what it means to live a life” but I don’t think you meant it because this would mean, what? That the rest of us, the non-artist-actors, are just muddling through? Missing the point? Not living a life of celebration and meaning?
Like you, I too celebrate life and I know plenty of people who, while not make a living performing in front of a camera or living in mansions and attending grand galas, also celebrate life.
I myself am a mom. This is my current profession and I celebrate life every day. Whenever I try out a new recipe for my family and they actually eat it, I celebrate. I celebrate when I find matching socks for my daughter in the morning and I celebrate when I manage to pay all of my bills, on time. Teachers, dentists, garbage collectors, military personal, FEDEX deliverers, waitresses, they are all celebrating life, just not in the glitzy, glamorous, style of Hollywood. True, they aren’t wearing swanky clothes when they drop off your package from Amazon or fix your sore tooth or protect your country and no, there won’t be a star on a sidewalk with their name on it celebrating their ability to get those chicken nuggets to your table before your child completely loses it. There is no musical score playing in the background of a third grade classroom while a teacher tries to teach twenty-five energetic children “new” math. There won’t be a PEOPLE Magazine cover detailing the worn yoga pants-sweatshirt combo us regular people wear and years from now nobody will even remember all of the great things we have accomplished but believe me, we, are all celebrating what it means to live a life even if we don’t have a golden statue to show for it.
So Ms. Davis, continue to make your wonderful films and give your fanatic speeches, just please don’t use the word “only” anymore when stating who celebrates what it means to live a life. We all do.