For Viola Davis, raising her 11-year-old daughter in an environment filled with love and thoughtful guidance isn’t just the action of a devoted mother.
It’s also a much-needed balm for her own inner child.
The Academy Award-winning actor paid a visit to TODAY with Hoda & Jenna Wednesday and opened up about that full-circle experience.
“I feel about Genesis the same way I feel about myself when I look at myself when I (was) younger,” “The First Lady” star said during a chat with hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. “I think it’s a great opportunity to grow and even learn about me, because I have to give her affirmations — every day I do it.”
They’re the bits of wisdom and kindness she never received in her youth.
- “G, your heart and your head are the two most important things in your life.”
- “Genesis, mommy’s going to love you more than anyone is ever going to love you — even the love of your life.”
- “Genesis, life is going to be hard. I can give you everything, everything that I know, but it’s still going to be hard.”
After listing them off, Davis said that the advice is really both for her and her daughter.
“I’m telling it to myself," the actor explained.
The 56-year-old, who was on to discuss her new memoir, “Finding Me,” also spoke with Hoda earlier this month for the anchor’s podcast, “Making Space,” where she discussed some of the reasons her own childhood left her in need of those important messages, too.
Growing up, a group of boys terrorized Davis, taunting her and using racial slurs. She told Hoda that she ran to escape those struggles, but making the situation even more heartbreaking, she added, “I didn’t have any arms to run in to.”
At home, life was even more fraught.
“If I felt like I was running for my life from the eight or nine boys, I felt then I had to go into a home where I was running for my life,” she said. “That’s what it felt like when I would witness the violence between my mom and dad. I keep remembering these moments of violence that even happened at night in the middle of the street. And not one window opened. No one came out to help.”
It's a way of life she refuses to hand down to the daughter she shares with husband Julius Tennon. Instead, she's ensuring Genesis has a home that's also a safe haven, as well as a mother that serves as a strong example of resilience.