Viola Davis reflects on a childhood spent in poverty and overcoming bullies who called her 'ugly'

Viola Davis may be one of the biggest stars in showbiz now. 

But even she is still healing old childhood wounds. 

The actress, 54, reflected on overcoming the bullies of her younger years after a childhood spent in poverty, in her cover story with People

'She was a survivor': Viola Davis reflected to People on overcoming the bullies of her younger years as an adult, after a childhood spent in poverty

'She was a survivor': Viola Davis reflected to People on overcoming the bullies of her younger years as an adult, after a childhood spent in poverty

Not a day goes by that Viola is not reminded of her younger self.   

'I see her every single day I open my big Sub-Zero refrigerator or sit in my Jacuzzi; she's just standing there squealing,' she explained. 

'And I always feel like I have to go back and heal that little girl who grew up in poverty, who was called names and "ugly" all the time.'  

'Until recently, someone told me, "Maybe you need to let the little girl heal you at 54. Maybe you need to allow the little girl to be excited at the 54-year-old she gets to become,"' says Viola, who was recently unveiled as the new face of L'Oreal Paris.

'Because actually, she did pretty good. She was a survivor. She got out of it. And it makes me look at my past completely differently when I see that.' 

Viola has fond memories of those who helped her get by during her childhood.

The actress' family was struggling to get by, yet Viola is still struck by the kindness of those in the education community.  

'I can't tell you how many people have helped me,' she explained. 'I had a principal and I would come into her office and she would have a paper bag full of clothes. They were hand-me-downs, but they were so cute, the little purses, the A-line skirts.' 

She was also surprised when one teacher expressed just how much potential they saw in her.    

New deal: The 54-year-old actress was recently unveiled as the newest face of L'Oreal Paris
New deal: The 54-year-old actress was recently unveiled as the newest face of L'Oreal Paris

New deal: The 54-year-old actress was recently unveiled as the newest face of L'Oreal Paris 

''Viola, do you know you're an all-American girl?'',' the actress remembered being asked by the teacher one day. 

'I was like, "Me? But I don't have blonde hair and blue eyes." He said, "No, you're an all-American girl. You're smart, you have all these attributes."'    

Now Viola is the new face of one of the biggest beauty companies in the industry - L'Oreal.  

When announcing her role earlier this month, the new L'Oreal ambassador said she had struggled from low self-esteem her entire life, but now hopes to inspire others with her new role. 

'As someone who is, self-proclaimed, "not a classic beauty", my ultimate hope is that women out there are inspired by my image,' she said. 

'When you reach a certain age, the playing field is leveled in terms of looks and what you're left with is your self-worth and how you impact others. I want people to realize that this is the only thing that stands the test of time,' she added.  

Viola is a critically-acclaimed actress who received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2016 for her role in Fences.

She has been married to Julius Tennon since 2003, and they adopted their daughter Genesis as a baby in 2011. 

Family first: She has been married to Julius Tennon since 2003, and they adopted their daughter Genesis as a baby in 2011 (pictured 2017)

Family first: She has been married to Julius Tennon since 2003, and they adopted their daughter Genesis as a baby in 2011 (pictured 2017)

  

Viola Davis reflects on childhood spent in poverty and overcoming bullies

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