This story is part of the series Academy Awards
Viola Davis sets an inspiring tone for women on Oscars weekend
BEVERLY HILLS — You can always count on Viola Davis.
At Friday's annual Women in Film pre-Oscar cocktail party, Davis made an impromptu speech before the gathered crowd at Crustacean restaurant — and she didn't disappoint.
Davis began with a story she had just told a fellow partygoer: "I remember I told my five-year-old daughter, at the time, I said 'Genesis, you know you've very complicated.' And she said 'Mommy, take that back!' I said, 'Genesis, that's a compliment! That means you're multifaceted, there's a lot of different things in you. She said, 'Mommy, you're trying to tell me that I'm confusing.'"
The gathered female Hollywood power-players – producers, directors, executives and actresses – collectively groaned and laughed.
Davis continued: "And I say to that, even with all of us women in here being 'confusing,' feeling like maybe we have a little extra weight on us, feeling like, especially in this past year, that we have testimonies of sexual assault, feeling less than, of always at the caboose — we're still worth it. With all of our imperfections. With all of our complexities and confusion. We're worth it.
"This is a year of owning who we are," she said. "You either own your story and you share it or you stand outside of it, always hustling for your worth." The actress closed by saying: "The privilege of a lifetime is being exactly who we are."
Emma Stone, who co-hosted the party this year with WIF's Los Angeles president, Cathy Schulman, took the stage next. "No one should ever have to follow Viola Davis, ever," she exclaimed. "And that was off the cuff!"