Viola Davis’s latest film, Beautiful Creatures comes out today. Based on a YA novel, the film follows a teen girl, Lena (Alice Englert) who moves to a small Southern town. At her new high school she falls for Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), who is longing to escape small town life. The two uncover secrets about their families, their histories and their town as supernatural occurrences begin to happen around them.
Davis plays Amma, a hybrid of two characters — a maid and a librarian — from the original book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Davis is glad the maid part of Amma was dropped in the film adaptation, instead she is a librarian who is a seer with a connection to the magical world.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Davis delves deeper into the original text origins of her character.
Richard LaGravenese forbade us from reading the book. He said, “Do not touch the book.” I got the book. I read half of it and then I put it down, because Amma is a maid, and I just said, “OK, there’s nothing I can learn from this.” This is a total re-imagining of the character, and I like it. I’m going to be confident and bold and say I like it because, listen, I understand and I respect the book, and I think the book is wonderful, but this is 2013, and I think that when black people are woven into the lives of characters in 2013, I think they play other roles than maids. I think that that needs to be explored, and I hope that the audience is willing to suspend their disbelief and embrace what Richard LaGravenese has given them.
We know that Davis had strong feelings about her character from The Help and are glad she keeps talking about the importance of broadening the types of characters available to African-American actors.
Beautiful Creatures opens today. Watch the trailer below.
‘Beautiful Creatures’ Star Viola Davis on Why Her Character Isn’t a Maid in the Adaptation (Q&A) (The Hollywood Reporter)