The actress Viola Davis won the best Oscar for best supporting actress earlier this year for her phenomenal performance in the movie “Fences” with Denzel Washington. She brought me to tears as I witnessed the dignity with which she portrayed her character’s anguish and pain. Outstanding in every way!
Just as stirring as her performance in the movie was her acceptance speech at the Oscars. She always displays a profound sense of humility and looks outside of herself and the accolades heaped upon her to give thanks to others for the blessings and success she has received. In her speech she said the following:
“There is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered and that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories – the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost. I became an artist and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”
While I was moved by her words, I would add that we do not always need to look to the graveyard for our stories and inspiration. We can and should look to the youth in our communities who struggle to overcome tremendous odds to just stay alive and become responsible members of society. We can also look to people we see each and every day including friends and strangers, people at work, those who are ill or elderly – ordinary people who are alive and here can inspire us just as much as those who have left us.
As an actress, Ms. Davis inspires millions on the big screen. As an extraordinary ordinary person each one of us can strive to inspire, encourage, listen to and hear the stories of someone we interact with each and every day. We may not be able to make a movie of their lives but we can let them know that we hear them and that none of us is alone so long as others care. So I thank you, Viola, for giving us words to ponder and inspiring us to listen!