This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
- Movie theaters? In this climate?
- Viola Davis preaches.
- We! Saw! Hamilton!
- A Rachel McAdams appreciation.
- And some love for Dan Stevens, too.
It’s not a surprise that, during a national conversation about systemic racism and the fortress walls to success and equality encountered by Black and brown people every day, a speech by Viola Davis has gone viral. Few people anywhere, let alone in Hollywood, are as blessed by the Holy Trinity—eloquence, passion, talent, Amen—as the Oscar-winning actress, and few are as fearless and effective at speaking truth to power.
It’s not a speech so much as it is a sermon, a meticulously articulated series of revelations and truths, each successively unlocking another door on the ascension to enlightenment for those who need to hear it. It also, as it happens, is an answer to a question she was asked back in 2018 during a live interview with Tina Brown.
It garnered attention then. It’s gone viral now, shared all over social media. But what will it take, if not the years already, for the message sent to be a message received?
Davis was asked about the gender pay gap in Hollywood, which she pointed out was very different for Black women, using her own experience as an example.
“I had a friend who said, ‘Yeah, but Viola, your career is better than my career,’” Davis recounts in the clip. “I said, ‘Yeah, but you can’t compare me to you, because, once again, I got the Oscar, I got the Emmy, I got the two Tonys, I’ve done Broadway, I’ve done off-Broadway, I’ve done TV and I’ve done film. I’ve done all of it.”
“I have a career that’s probably comparable to Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Sigourney Weaver,” she continued. “They all came out of Yale; they came out of Julliard; they came out of NYU. They had the same path as me. And yet I am nowhere near them, not as far as money, not as far as job opportunities — nowhere close to it.”
Her rousing conclusion: “People say, ‘You’re a Black Meryl Streep. You are, and we love you! We love you. There is no one like you.’ OK, then if there is no one like me, if you think I’m that, you pay me what I’m worth. You give me what I’m worth.”
No one is better at elucidating these talking points than Viola Davis. She visits them—and myriad other ones specific to the experience of a Black woman’s journey in Hollywood—in almost every interview she gives. It must be an exhausting burden, and yet another example of how truly equal opportunity is out of reach; her white co-stars don’t shoulder that same obligation.
Appreciate the work Viola Davis does. That means, sure, keep sharing that clip until there’s no longer a need for it to keep going viral. But also give her what she’s worth.
To that point of worth, have we given Renée Elise Goldsberry the moon, the stars, and every hope and dream she’s ever dared to have? It’s what she deserves after her performance in Hamilton.
Obviously it’s hard to argue that someone who won a Tony Award didn’t get their due. But as an Icon of Not Having Seen Hamilton Before, who Finally Just Watched Hamilton, I can say that not nearly enough has been done in these last five years to elevate Goldberry into a household name, an actress who is in every single thing I watch—because now I only want to watch her.
How is it that we have not agreed to only refer to her performance as Angelica in the hushed holy whisper we reserve for the all-time great theater performances? To that end, how come when I hear people talking about today’s best Broadway stars, her name isn’t included in that conversation?
This is all to say that, despite the (very logical) feeling that I was jipped out of something intangibly special out of not seeing it live for the first time, I really enjoyed watching Hamilton on Disney+. The Room Where It Happens was the room where everything happens these days: My apartment’s combination living-room-dining-room-office-gym. What a treat!
Rachel McAdams is so funny in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The movie is vaguely idiotic and so is she in it, and the fact that she not only gets it, but executes it is a miracle. “The elves went too far!” Show me a better line-reading.
After the one-two punch of this and Game Night—and people remembering, oh yeah, she burst on the scene with Mean Girls—McAdams is finally getting her acclaim as one of our most talented comedic leading ladies.
I’m so happy for her and don’t want to tarnish a single iota of the deserved praise. However it must be said that the timeline of this film places her character in her mid- to early-50s, which is just about as outlandish and offensive as trying to make us root for her in a romantic storyline with Will Ferrell in the first place.
And while we’re talking about Eurovision, a shot of vodka for Dan Stevens’ performance, too.
What to watch this week:
The Baby-Sitters Club: Every human—young, old, male, female, nice person cynic—has loved Netflix’s new adaption.
Mucho Mucho Amor: A great documentary on famous astrologer Walter Mercado.
What to skip this week:
The Fuck-It List: “It might be the worst movie I’ve ever seen?”