A Review of ‘‘Finding Me’’ and Lessons for Women

Viola’s gift to Women and Girls on finding and embracing YOU

Isioma Ononye
4 min readNov 24, 2022

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

‘‘Finding Me,’’ by Viola Davis is a beautiful read for all girls and women who struggle to come to terms with their self-worth, beauty and value.

It is a read that inspires hope in all who have humble beginnings and dreams to move beyond the life they are accustomed to.

In ‘’Finding Me,’’ Viola tells her story as a young black girl growing up in a poor family.

In the book, we see Viola strive out of a setting of poverty and into her purpose of theatre and acting.

We see her take on roles that cause her to reflect on her past scars of feeling desired and worthy.

Here are my top favourite lessons from Viola Davis in ‘‘Finding Me.’’

You Can Become More Than Where You Started From

Viola Davis grew up in a poor family in Central Falls, Rhode Island. There were moments when they were not able to cook their food.

Also, there were moments when she couldn’t bathe and she and her sister would show up to the classroom with a bad smell that the teacher had once brought her out.

‘‘We were poor and we knew it. There was absolutely no disputing it. It was reflected in the apartments we lived in, where we shopped for clothes and furniture — the St. Vincent de Paul — the food stamps that were never enough to fully feed us, and the welfare checks. We were ‘’po.’’ We almost never had a phone. Often, we had no hot water or gas.’’

Though Viola Davis grew up poor, she was able to make it out. She studied theatre and was able to advance in her acting career from getting supporting roles to leading roles and winning an Oscar for her role in the ‘’Fences.’’

Viola’s journey inspires women to know that their dreams are achievable. No matter how grand it seems, your dreams are valid.

You might be starting off from a different footing than others but nothing is impossible.

Viola’s life is a testimony to those who come from a less-than-fortunate background, you can rise out of it.

You Are Not Defined by Society’s Standards of Beauty

Growing up, Viola did not feel beautiful. She was bullied by boys. One particular memory she discusses in the book states ‘‘I’m the little girl who would run after school every day in third grade because these boys hated me because I was…not pretty. Because I was…Black.’’

She goes further to state ‘‘It is a powerful memory because it was the first time my spirit and heart were broken. I defined myself by the fear and rage of those boys. I felt ugly. I felt unwanted, even by God. I wanted so badly to fit into this world, but instead, I was being spit out like vomit.’’

Even as an actress, it was difficult for Viola to get roles because the parts she sought to obtain, and the standards of beauty did not favour her.

The producers would want someone that was black but not too black. She said that often she couldn’t get into some roles because she wasn’t ‘’pretty enough.’’

Yet, a turning point in her career was when she was cast in the role of ‘’How to Get Away with Murder.’’

Viola writes that she remembered the teachings of Sanford Meisner, who asked himself: Why Can’t I be Sexualised? Why Can’t I be Vulnerable?’’ Why Can’t I have a Husband and a Boyfriend? Why can’t I be a leading lady? As I continued to ask myself the question Why? I reached a dead end that asked me: Why not?’’

Viola taking on the role of Annalise Keating in ‘‘How to Get Away with Murder,’’ was her redefining the standards of what it means to be a woman portrayed on the screen.

Following Your Passion Affects Your Happiness in Life

Though Viola was always inclined to the arts, she was not initially sure that pursuing her passion in the arts would lead her to financial stability.

However, her reluctance in pursuing the arts led her to depression.

In the book, she writes ‘’I went to college asking myself, as many artists do: How am I going to make money? How am I going to support myself? When I didn’t see a clear path, I thought, I’m not going back home. It’s just not going to work as an artist. I have to be something else. Acting is just something I’m going to do on the side. So I took a lot of English courses, which I loved, and decided I was going to be a teacher. Something inside me, however, must have had different ideas, because I fell deep and hard into a major sadness. It was a depression about trading in my dream.’’

She later graduated with a degree in theatre in 1988. Pursuing her dream in the arts was important because her deciding not to pursue it led her to deep sadness.

Viola’s pursuit of her dreams is an indication that we all need to go after the dreams and pursuits that are in our hearts.

Pursuing your dreams leads to happiness and fulfilment of the life that God has called you to lead.

Have you read ‘‘Finding Me,’’ by Viola Davis? What are your thoughts on the book and do you recommend a similar memoir to this?

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Isioma Ononye

I write about self-esteem, christianity, mental health, women's empowerment and communications. Join my newsletter here: https://substack.com/@isiomaononye