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Watch This Must-See Debate Between Tavis Smiley, Viola Davis + Octavia Spencer About “The Help”

Watch This Must-See Debate Between Tavis Smiley, Viola Davis + Octavia Spencer About "The Help"

If you’re like me, you’re probably ready to move on from all the controversy surrounding The Help but here’s a spirited debate between Tavis Smiley, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer that’s a must-see!

With a tag-team style, the ladies tackle all the questions and never-ending conflict about the film.

Watch Actresses Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.

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its two things.. Distribution and ticket cost, sales. But the forgiveness things in my mind we are some of the most forgiving people. Tavis is right.




Can someone help me out please I wanna watch a movie just like the help..any suggestions please

Greg Thrasher

I enjoyed the banter. I admire Tavis for not willing to dismiss the issues of films like THE HELP and the role of Black actors. I am tired of Black actors playing the "employment guilt card" which Viola played . I also tire of others making excuses for the lousy scripts as still being progressive and door openers. I will always reject margainal efforts and excuses even those offered up by Black actors and creative people.


Black movie goers should start supporting their own, Independent filmmakers like Dwayne Buckle and others who write, produce and distribute their own films that include other facets of the black cultural experience, not just relying on tyler Perry-esce scenarios as a benchmark of black culture.
Filmmakers like Buckle often go unnoticed and unsupported because they operate outside of the Hollywood mainstream, coincidentally this is the only way we can control ownership of our history culture and future.


@jug regarding the idris elba's praise for luther the character was not written for a black man it wasn't race specific in fact the role is very similar to another dysfunctional detective called cracker it was a bristish tv show that aired in the 90's and was played by a fat white man called Robbie Coltrane -the roles are almost identical! They also made a u.s version if im not mistaken.
Even if this role WAS a stereotype the way idris plays it is with depth and complexity no way could you compare his sophisticated portrayl of a established and high powered detective to the roles these two ladies played which is a centuries old racist ideal of dark skinned black women-you are clutching at straws when you try to compare the two when the ONLY lead role a black women gets in mainstream film for 2 DECADES is a dumpy maid i think that speaks VOLUMES don't you?


Tavis can be such a douche nozzle!


Thanks for this link. The book was a travesty. Kathryn Stockett actually said in three audio interviews the Medgar Evers had been BLUDGEONED in his front yard. Barnes and Noble still has the audio up. The book also has Skeeter mentioning that Evers was bludgeoned, in the hard copy of the book and paperback. The ebook has been corrected. Davis was quoted as saying she doesn't read the descriptions of black characters in books. I can see why, especially since the book never talks about the beauty in the black culture. The errors were so bad I started a blog in June of 2010 on wordpress to refute what was in the novel. A Critical Review of The Help.


She pooed in a pie… wassup with that?


A friend of mine told me when I said I was tired of all the "white boy coming-of-age-stories" and wanted to see some "Black girl coming of-age-stories". He said, simply, "Then you need to write them." I will never for get that, because it was the truth.

The fact is that African Americans have not historically encouraged our young people to be anything other than performers when it comes to the arts. But if we do not also cultivate within our community writers, directors, cinematographers, composers and designers, we limit the opportunities for AA actors. Writers write from experience, from their point of view. If we want the world to see things from our point of view, we have to show them. We can't whine because they don't do it for us.


One Oscar winning fat Black maid in "Gone With The Wind" 50 years ago. Now another Oscar nominated fat Black maid. Fifty years from now, we'll have another fat Oscar nominated Black maid. As a Black woman, I'm so sick of these White people reminiscing about those "good old days" in Mississippi/Dixie.

It's time to add "Step N Fetch" so that Black men too can be represented, eeh??

I agree with Tavis.


unintentionally (as a result of this new-ish, divisive term) Octavia said that African American artists were hobbled by being required to only play heroes and paragons of virtue….BECAUSE BLACK ARTISTS who come from Europe are able (like white artists from ANY country) to portray the FULL gamut of humanity (including homosexual romantic relationships) without the straight jackets imposed on (or self imposed on) african AMERICAN artists (usually from religious lockstep mindsets that threaten them with repercussions if they step outside the "boundaries". I CELEBRATE AND THANK VIOLA & OCTAVIA. if only all BLACK American artists could take back their own freedom to create nuanced truth.


I can't believe people are still arguing about this damn film. I'm with Denzel…GET OVER IT. Octavia's going to win the Oscar, so settle your stomachs with some Metamucil RIGHT NOW!


viola is a very smart articulate and beautiful woman and I am proud to be a black woman


Love these forward thinking ladies…..come on Travis, get with the program. Your chip-on-the- shoulder, is hindering the very progress of the people you are hoping to help!

Be free

@ jmac
Speak to power! Tell the truth and same the devil. Thank you


The arguments presented here smack of the same old shit some Black folks have endured for far too long from other Black folks: Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I think that this is the mentality that Viola Davis was furious about. Two Black women of exceptional talent have been nominated for an Oscar for excellent work and their efforts meet with criticism because they were playing maids- yet I'm certain if they were portraying macroeconomists or classical musicians they'd likely be accused of being disingenuous and scolded for "talking white". Just as men rarely consider when choosing a profession, how it might impact on their children and women ALWAYS have to, Black actors have the double fuck of hardly getting any work and being chastised by a segment of the community for accepting a role pious, non movie making folks disapprove of. As Ms Davis mentioned, Anthony Hopkins and Charlize Theron won an oscars for their roles as a serial killers… did they have to endure guff from their compatriots for their performances? Mr Smiley's desire for balance is a noble one but as long as Black folks are making Tyler Perry, Lil Wayne et al rich, don't expect change in that area. One thing to consider here; if the film Precious was written or directed by a white person, all the folks complaining about The Help would be screaming their heads off for such an ugly, relentlessly depressing depiction of a Black family. Criticism is cheap… clarity is priceless.

Dr Cook

The references to Anthony Hopkins and Charlise Theron is facetious. Nobody is going to treat white men or women as serial killers because of those movies. On the other hand some white people may view blacks as only worthy of service jobs. And the crap about limiting the black artist is ridiculous and inane. There are millions of blacks who are not maids and not black thugs!!!


Finally made it through the responses – Jug's in particular pheww. I have to compare and contrast this interview with the Nightline post and Tanya Steele's interview [listen to it if you haven't already] and declare BS on Viola and Octavia's positions. I understand they want to play roles that are interesting and there aren't many roles for black women – particularly those who look like Viola and Octavia but if they (or any black actor) was serious about choosing interesting, multifacted, truth-telling roles why aren't they creating those opportunities themselves by seeking out talented black screenwriters, directors, and producers and just do it? I doubt every damn black screenwriter out there is making a ghetto hood crack addict mother movie. I bet the stories being created by NYU, USC, etc… students and graduates are a heck of a lot more diverse than anything you'd find in film today and probably of a higher quality but they're nobodies. In order to be somebodies, they may need to break down and write some derivative crap, get some white man's stamp of approval of it (cause apparently nobody black no matter how prominent is afraid to take a chance on a great, quality black script unless it is validated by someone outside the black community) and maybe just maybe it'll reach Viola's agent. End result – unoriginal, low quality scripts sent to a woman who'll play an unoriginal maid but not an unoriginal crack addict mother. Well, we all have standards. Why not skip the middle men? Source material is out there. Black people have been writing about their experiences in this country since we got here. We've got talented people writing unique scripts right now. There's no excuse unless what you really want is to be a (temporary) big screen star that white people will want to hire again and again for similar roles. The problem isn't the lack of opportunity in Hollywood or lack of quality with black written scripts, it's the lack of collaboration [and courage] among black entertainers.

Miles Ellison

I'm no fan of Tavis Smiley, but he has a point here. Why is the honest, warts-and-all depiction of black people limited to a few well-worn stereotypes?

Said in Los Angeles

I'm an artist, actually I'm a film producer and Black folks mindsets aren't destroying the black artists….Tavis is asking why other roles that Black folks play aren't acknowledged in award season. I'd rather focus on why Black folks in Hollywood won't, not can't, won't produce a 'Chronicles' or 'Bourne Identity'

other song

Honestly, why all this focus on Viola and Octavia? Yes, their performances are part of the problem but the reality is that they have NO power when it comes to greenlighting projects/original material. And they're terrific actresses. I have total love and respect for them. They made the best of a wack situation. Tavis et al should be trying to interview Tate Taylor, execs from Dreamworks, etc. But of course, those people are impossible to reach, impossible to touch and are silently collecting their dough.


I am sorry, but Viola and Octavia are being disingenuous. The character Viola played and what came across on screen and vastly different. We did not learn anything about the black maids outside their interaction with the white characters. The Help follows the same white paternalistic narrative as Blindside, Blood Diamond, and Finding Forester etc. I am sorry Viola and Octavia, but some us know this whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.
This was a Disneyesque delivery of being a black maid in the 1960's. Viola was going to the extreme to make her point. Yes, Viola while your character was not like the 1920's movies when the black maid just stood by the table and never mumbled a word; it surely was not this fully realized character either. I did feel that it was the hundredth movie I've seen where if it wasn't for a noble white person then the black characters would be doomed. I like Viola, but she is conjuring up a hypothetical version of The Help that she thinks might appease black critics.
Yes, she is an actor and must do what she believes is right. However, I am a consumer I am not obligated to support anything that I feel fundamentally pigeonholed the black experience. Viola said that Black thought is holding black artist. Really, Viola? You have to be kidding. Nobody wants black actors to only play “perfect characters”. We want well developed characters; especially black women characters. To suggest the alternative is to play the SAME tried black maid archetype is false logic.
Well it could be easily argued her continuation of playing these types of roles does more to keep these undeveloped black characters that only exist as an appendage of white paternalism alive. I am not even going to discuss what Octavia said because I think she was still reading from a script. I will quote a line from Minnie that summed up The Help for me.
Minnie : “Frying chicken just makes me feel better about life. I just love me some fried chicken”.

a reader

DAYUM! Viola Davis is fionne! ***goes back to listen to the video instead of just watching Viola***

other song

"He who brings the gold makes the rules." Rule 2: never blame the man who brings the gold. If anything, blame the peasants (the ticket-buying public) and the external faces (the actors). But don't EVER question the decision makers. And certainly don't mention them by name – they sign your paychecks.

Concerned Black Cinephile

These two women are amazing.

a former Buffalo Soldier

Like I've said before, "they only way our true stories will be told, is we tell it ourselves." The same applies to movies being made from them, without being trivialized.. Like carrying a 20 pound marble head in a battle scene.


Ummm @19:30 Viola, if you have a whole bunch of artists in your house with scripts. And the roles they have for you are urban unattractive mothers with no sense of dynamic to them, maybe you should kick them out and let the REAL ARTIST IN! Just because you haven't met them, it does not mean mean they do not exist. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Robert Galloway, M.D.

I viewed the discussion with Tavis and Viola Davis. In my opinion, Viola was correct. She's a superior actress and deserves the award. Tavis was also commentting on the "Red Tails" movie which I also saw. The documetation was long overdue because of it's importance in American History. But the type-casting was somewhat shallow with too many stereotypes which underminded the worth of that movie. "Red Tails" should be re-done by a "heavy-weight" like Spike Lee who would avoid all the unnecessary stereotyping and Viola Davis should get the highest award because she's the best.


Viola is full of it, and Octavia knows she is unattractive and fat. This is the best role she will get-didn't she play the prostitute in Bad Santa who bent over for Billy Bob, so a maid is a step up for her. I was very impressed with Tavis' approach and rebuttal.


And if you're bored enough to read my ramblings, please forgive my quotation marks & apostrophes coming out all screwey…damn computer LOL


I agree with Viola and Octavia and I think at some point they should stop explaining themselves. How many times can you explain your decision to someone who is convinced that you made the wrong decision?


No, we don't always want to be seen as noble, that is tiring as well, but Viola, Black women simply want to be acknowledged as being "worthy" of love. Love from family, love from a partner, love from an acceptance of our humanity, love expressed through honoring our femininity, "love" which is an underlying theme in every script, be it feature film or commercial, that is used to LIFT UP non-Black womanhood, but is also turned on its head, as a theme, for Black women to express how UNWORTHY they are of love. It's epidemic and is killing the Black community, actually…that's kind of why it's important.


*DISCLAIMER*: I don't eff with Tavis Smiley. Used to dig him, but then found out he's a huckster like everyone else.
**DOUBLE DISCLAIMER**-This bout to be a LONG one, straight hijack LOL
***TRIPLE DISCLAIMER***-This is another subject Black folks will be split on. Period. *Whew* Okay, now that I'm done with that. Why is it shocking what Viola said? One of, if not THE biggest issue, is that Black people always see everything through the prism of race. And before people start in with ‘but we’re black’-BULLSHIT! Yes you can see things just as a person. It ain’t that hard. Speak to the spirit that God gave you & it's easy. Otherwise, you're speaking & acting as an Agendist-like every other white person who's so-called "holdin' you down". Folks can’t see peoples actions, faults or even their virtues for failing of the color of their skin. Viola is a PERSON. She is an ACTOR. She wants to play the roles that interest her, speak to her & make her feel creative. Truth is, there isn't a whole lot of stuff written for or by actors of color that are super interesting. Why is that? Because as she said "90% of the roles I get are crackheads" because we are just as or if not more so stereotypical of our own than anyone else. Notice the same BLACK actors playing the exact same BLACK roles in every BLACK film? Not a coincidence, not only do we see ourselves a certain way and do we want it to stay a certain way, but we also want to make MONEY & if that mold has Viola as the crackhead, then damnit she's gonna be the crackhead! But back to the scripts…Sorry, there really aren't. Not at least getting produced. And the stuff that is even in the slightest bit interesting that gets made ain't paying enough. So you have to be doing something else on the side (theatre or, God Willing, a TV show) to be able to say "Oh I made this great, small film". Great, whoopee…Y'all forget, this is PEOPLE'S LIVELIHOODS, not just your entertainment on date night or something heartwarming to show your kids for Black History Month. These people go to set, like other folks work at the Post Office, a law firm, the factory etc. Viola said it-"Image, Message & Execution". IT. IS. TRUE. Get mad all you want, but look at the Image Awards. IMAGE Awards?!…that says it all. Not the quality of the Art or what it says to our Human discourse. But how we LOOK. Yeah Yeah, does it send a positive message, that’s cool and all but as I said before, how many of you would be happy with a good looking, well spoken but DUMB, WEAK, BLACK President? Hmm makes you wonder…. (Cont'd)


(Cont'd) Now I will concede, Tavis has a point with the imbalance in the industry. It’s true, people give kudos to work when they feel they "believe it", what they really mean is, “I see you a certain way & you fulfilled that idea.” A very idiotic & ignorant way of thinking indeed, but you can’t change that. And when you go the other extreme, away from honesty of the work even in the ugliest of situations, you get product that is not only not honest, but also insulting to the intelligence (TP, Eli Roth’s films and from what I understand much of RED TAILS was quite ridiculous). Now, many folks are okay with that, and that’s cool too. Everybody has their druthers, but to say as a BLACK Artist, that’s what you HAVE to do is bullshit. It’s bullshit & it’s insulting to the person of color who’s learning about being a person-you just told them they can’t be because of political, social or societal panderings. WTF?! Think about the years where there was a Black President portrayed on screen (James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert) and people left it starkly in the land of "fiction" even “sci-fi” meaning “Yeah, right!” Because people didn't believe, wouldn't believe it would happen (I gotta admit, I honestly thought there would be a female president before a black president in my lifetime & I’m mid-30s). It’s that sort of insulting logic that makes Black people more than pissed but is perplexing when they do the same sort of thing to their own artist. “You can’t do this or that because it makes us look bad. It’s not who we are.” Again, Bullshit. I know MANY a Black maid LOL but back to that idea of Balance. I agree Tavis, Denzel winning for TRAINING DAY was a boobie prize because THE HURRICANE & MALCOLM X blew that performance out of the water. While Alonzo was a stunning performance, primarily because as such a disgusting and despicable person, we actually liked him…I wanted to hang with him, women wanted to fuck him…that's tough to do; his work as Malcolm & Rueben Carter were transcendent. Same thing with Hannibal Lecter. Tavis, again, is right in that context, there is no BALANCE when it comes to what is considered “elite” or “award worthy” BUT we don’t do ourselves any favors by nominating Halle Berry for showing her tits in SWORDFISH. GO Halle, Best Actress all the way hon!  And after all that, what Octavia said, speaks to what Anthony Mackie said, what Rockmund Dunbar said, what Morgan Freeman said-that we need to get OUR shit together. Period. And at least on this site, The Root and other blogs catering to Black audiences, these cats were taken to the woodshed! People hated them for saying "what the hell, you’re slippin’, get it together, do it yourself". But we only want to see US doing it OURSELVES if it’s CERTAIN kinds of BLACK content-just as Viola alluded to. But as Octavia noted people are not pooling their resources-and why is that? Hmm, well it’s probably because they are not sure of or flat out afraid of A) working together with other Black industry insiders because it “drops the esteem” of their product & B) the project won’t make money-the latter probably being the most important! As an actor I agree with Viola, I want to play Nino Brown, as long as I get to play Jack Sparrow or John McClaine. Complexity. Interesting. Challenging. The “Black” part takes care of itself just by nature of casting me. What’s this extra “Black Sauce” I gotta lay on top of it? Are we that fucking stupid that we don’t get it when we see the damn show?! We’re always checking to see just how “black” the show is or the characters are or the actor is (all this bullshit about these actors married to white women, GTFOH are you dating him? Did you have a shot?! Whatever man?! Stupid things to be sooo upset about & totally irrelevant in “the struggle” whatever the fuck that is). Ridiculous…



But when it comes to being awarded, that is more about politics & personal prejudices than anything else. And that is saying something about a business that is extremely selfish, vain & self-absorbed. So if you're gonna bitch about the awards, cool-get it straight-Attack the industry, attack the decision makers. But to attack Viola or Octavia (when Viola CONSISTENTLY gives great performances) for them playing "maids" is ridiculous as Viola has played Homeland Security chiefs, Police Detectives, NASA ship Captains as well as crack mothers & working mothers & I'm sure Octavia has the skill set to do the same & both can do MORE. I wonder how many of the people “bitching” have seen Viola in SOLARIS with Clooney? Or EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE? Or knew she was co-lead of an ABC pilot, saw her in SYRIANA AGAIN with Clooney? Instead of “oh she played that crack mother in OUT OF SIGHT & a poor strugglin’ black momma in DOUBT!” In defense of Black content creators, they are PEOPLE too, and just like everybody else, we go off what we SEE first & not really look past the visual to see or even investigate the skill set. I could go on & on about this (this is waay too much for a Friday afternoon), but I’ll leave with this. If we want to be taken seriously as a creative force in the industry, the way we are in Music AND Dance, we REAALLY need to get our heads out of our collective asses and start being honest about shit. Or else we’ll have a lot of money, but everyone will be laughing at us behind our backs..& maybe even to our faces.


I absolutely lost all respect for Viola; never had respect for Octavia. It is because Black people demand and are critical of our worst representations being most represented that those images are at the forefront of the American media machine or watered down, Viola? What the hell. I get the Black actor in Hollywood needs to work, Viola, but Black people need to live and when they are in a society that finds comfort in the weakness of its most exploited female citizens by turning them into circus "freaks", then we all fail. No, I do not take solace in the fact that Octavia, as well as a number of other nameless mammy caricatures, have gotten more representation on television since 2000 than "normies" when, in the US, being skinny is seen as a virtue. I do not appreciate every negative aspect of WOMANHOOD being placed upon the black woman's shoulders… traits seen in ALL WOMEN translated only through the spectacle of the Black woman on television. You've got to be kidding me and I have to say, the HELP was the most watered down crap, so not worthy… the experience of Black maids as seen through the lens of a well-meaning White woman? See Octavia, that was the only thing somewhat different about this movie (that I would characterize as a mid-range quality Lifetime movie). It is clear that you're not even versed in the industry which you are wholeheartedly defending. I mean the number of movies FEATURING Black maids, my gosh, half of which probably starred Whoopi Goldberg! I would have respected these actresses more if they had just been like, "Yes, we get it" and then said something profound to make us all understand (I choose not to, but I'm sure if I wanted to, I pull something out of my arse)…, but to get mad and chastise those who must navigate the REAL world everyday based on images you're breathing life into on screen (going global btw), Viola, because Black actors need to work, Viola, like…really? To not use this moment to engage in REAL dialogue, based on truth – not the Black actors' paychecks is a damn shame. I had the same concerns about your extremely brief, Oscar nominated, role in Doubt where for all of probably 3 minutes on-screen, in-Toto, your character with a similar indignant carriage as your TS video here, chose to send her son to the pedophile priest because of possible opportunities for "her" son in the future… Oscar nod…yes, I had my doubts about that as well, but I got 5:16 into THIS vid and couldn't continue when I saw that you just were not getting it. PLEASE PEOPLE, do NOT allow these Black actors to turn the psychosis of Hollywood and Madison Avenue against you, the mocked, because you demand not even a 1/100th of what Hollywood and Madison Avenue offer to White society which then makes the Black actor's begging for work more difficult. Execution? I don't know too many Black women who couldn't play sad and pitiful… ***this was a rant***


I love Viola! She articulated the plight of a Black Actress perfectly. They both did an amazing portrayal of women that we are afraid to face. I do say to Tavis and all the others who want to put the decisions of Hollywood history on their shoulders, stop it at once. Until, the very people who are complaining, as they said, distribute the kind of films they supposedly want to see, you are apart of the problem. This day and age we really don't need the big studios anymore to distribute content, they are becoming a dinosour. Unless we stop holding debates and do something about it, the Black actress will become just as extinct. There are limited images anywhere of us and when we do get the opportunity to shine and show the dynamic artistry that we are constantly trying to convience Hollywood we have, we can't even revel in it, without "Our People" bringing us down. Participate in solution Tavis and quite talking.


So, does this mean if I saw Pariah I can hate "The Help"?


I think Tavis should do a part 2 after the oscars. This is proof that blacks can get together and have a respectful conversation. NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE GHETTO AND LOUD!!!!

Sis Marpessa

The ladies were eloquent, but the conversation didn't go far enough as the initial question was not adequately dealt with, what/why Hollywood rewards certain images when it comes to Black people, perfect example given was the variety of films Denzel should have won for. Hollyweird and their awards should not be celebrated when they're so blatantly skewed and all of the ceremonies are unapologetically lily-white to this day.


I caught a bit of the interview yesterday. Still not interested in seeing The Help, but I loved Viola's passionate defense of her art, and I appreciate her willingness to talk about the about the difficulties of being a black actress in Hollywood. Her comment about mostly being offered "crackhead" roles by black writers blew my mind…


Great interview with Viola, Octavia, and Tavis. I have just been convinced to see The Help. The book turned me off the movie until now, but the actresses convinced me that viewing their performances would be time well-spent.

Reece X

I love Viola Davis!!!!!!!!!! I love her.


I LOVE VIOLA DAVIS! lol this debate was so needed. I agree the artist should be free to express. it's the EXECUTION my people. The execution. I pray that this movement we see in film, Pariah, I Will Follow, Middle of Nowhere, An Oversimplification of her Beauty, etc carries ON and the high-rollers of color in Hollywood would catch on, come together and DISTRIBUTE!


Viola Davis is on point when she ping backed to the writers–black–as well for offering her the same shit that people are complaining about. I know I didn't care for The Help's premise, but I do see or at least beginning to see Viola and Octavia's viewpoint. And for once, Tavis Smiley didn't annoy me–lol


This is phenomenal, and I totally get what Viola was saying: The problem is not that there are (perceived as) stereotypical minority characters, but that those are the ONLY images we see. We're blaming the actors for taking roles that others see as stereotypes, when we should be blaming the industry for not creating more roles that are different in order to create a more realistically complex picture of minority experience.


Viola fully explained her statement of Black Culture killing the artist. When you shut down artist who play controversial roles you are limiting their craft and pigeon holding them into certain roles. We should play maids, if its a good role. We should be able to play the serial killer. Everyone had a great point in the interview. The last comment clearly didn't hear what Viola was really saying and Tavis got it!


Viola, I love you…lol. She has to be in my head some way. I always said the same thing. For instance, people criticize Tyler Perry's stereotypes. I never had a problem with the types because, as he said many times in defense, there are people like his characters. My problem was always execution: character development, lack of complexity, structure, scene breakdown, dialogue, camera, blocking, etc. I couldn't care less about the type of characters in his films. When you tell the truth, it's not always going to be pretty. We're not perfect.

Jayson Jay

This is the first time in a long time I've agreed with Tavis, this movie leaves me cold. I feel the history was done an injustice much like Mississippi Burning.


Viola nailed it. They are destroying the black artist. It's true.


To say that people in the black culture are killing the artist was an appalling statement by Mrs. Davis. I almost screamed at the screen. It's just that some of us want to see an equal amount of balanced types of films and characters. I'm glad that Travis went in and corrected her. Octavia saying that she does whatever she wants and has no responsibility for the bearing of her work on our community was also a slap in the face. We do want to face our past, some of us just want to face it truthfully. There was a lot of rhetoric and contridictions being spoken by Viola and Octavia. I'm surprised many of you didn't pick up on it.


The juiciest part of the conversation was A) The scripts that Mrs Davis is getting, come please people can't we be more creative, we are holding on to an image as her as a crack addicted, ebonics spouting mother etc, etc, it shows Black folks very supreme limited view and focus. B) Octavia hit it out of the park in asking why can't we come together to make our own industry, make films we want to see, help fund various projects. I hear their is a script and short film floating around out there written by Black writers and filmed by them on the subject of the Holocaust, that shows we can broaden our scope. why can't we broaden it enough to do other folks stories.? the entire conversation was awesome and again Octavia hit it out of the park when she spoke about PARIAH, folks should marched in droves to see that film!!!


Great video! I watched The Help the other day and have to say the black characters weren't the problem. It was the ever so nice white characters in a state where more black men were hanged in than in Vietnam. The film had one villain and the rest of them were sympathetic figures. I mean they were only racist because of peer pressure, get out of here with that nonsense. They took a violent place and time in history and Disneyfied it. I think that's where most people have a problem with.


I can't seem to view the video at the moment, but I will indeed watch 'The Help". Viola and Octavia have won me over. I respect them both. They have respect for their craft and the business. They both ended up giving their careers such a boost with these roles. Great move on both parts! I would, however, like to see them in more complex roles in the future.


Huge, huge respect to all three for engaging in a necessary and vital conversation.
Without playing one side to another, I think the nature of the disagreement boils down less to conflicts about race, the industry's bias, etc.

It's about the nature of critic and activist (Smiley) whose lens is largely informed by a social and political context and perspective vs. the artist and practitioner (Viola and Octavia) whose lens and work primarily (and need to put that qualifier in: *primarily*) is informed by a narrative, dramatic context and practice. I don't think these are all mutually exclusive, but the clash between critic and performer has always been fluid, tenuous, sometime explosive, and it makes for the some of the most thought provoking dialogue.

(Viola actually uses the word "execution" — in lieu of the word practice, or dramatic achievability — and she is dead on. )

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