In Viola Davis’s new memoir, “Finding Me,” she recounts watching her father physically and emotionally abuse her mother.
Now the Oscar winner is opening up about how she was able to make peace with father Dan Davis before he died of pancreatic cancer in 2006.
“My dad changed,” Davis, 56, told People. “My mom said he apologized to her every single day. Every single day, he rubbed her feet. Forgiveness is not pretty. Sometimes people don’t understand that life is not a Thursday-night lineup on ABC. It is messy.”
Davis and her five siblings grew up in poverty in Rhode Island. Dan was a horse groomer who left school after second grade, while his wife, Mae Alice Davis, worked in factories and as a maid.
Dan and Mae Alice remained married for 48 years, until his death.
“My dad loved me. I saw it. I felt it. I received it, and I took it. For me, that’s a much better gift and less of a burden than going through my entire life carrying that big, heavy weight of who he used to be and what he used to be and what he used to do,” Davis revealed. “That’s my legacy: forgiving my dad.”
The “First Lady” star noted that her past, which includes diving in dumpsters for food, has given her an “extraordinary sense of compassion.”
“I count it all as joy. I do,” she shared. “All of those things happened to me, but I own it. And it’s a part of who I am.”
Davis’s childhood has also shaped who she is as parent. Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, share 11-year-old daughter, Genesis.
In 2017, Davis told People that her No. 1 fear is raising an entitled child.
“I never had a house; Genesis has a house. I do shop at Target, I buy all her clothes at Target or H&M. And maybe, if I’m feeling really good, Nordstrom Rack.”