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Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis

“What I have realized since is that those moments of feeling alive are part of a continuum. You find that moment. You bask in it. Then as soon as it passes, life becomes about chasing the next moment. I now understand that life, and living it, is more about being present. I’m now aware that the not-so-happy memories lie in wait; but the hope and the joy also lie in wait.” (page 288)

I love a good memoir and this is one surpassed my expectations. As soon as I found out last year that Viola Davis would be publishing Finding Me, I added it to my 2022 reading list. I love Viola Davis and that six month countdown to publication day was worth it! This memoir is an opportunity to learn more about one of TV’s leading ladies. Here’s a story about love, purpose, faith, struggle, womanhood, dreaming and healing. It took me three days to plough through this book and there was so many gems to consider. The book is divided into seventeen chapters and by the end you realize that Davis doesn’t claim to have it all figured out, she’s found some parts and she’s still on that journey of finding herself.

Through her memories of the hurtful and broken parts of her life, Davis takes us through her journey of healing and facing inner truths. In the beginning she introduces us to where all the running away from herself began. She remembers the bullying that she went through, her parents’ tumultuous relationship, living in  an unprotected home and in poverty. “Memories are immortal. They are deathless and precise. They have the power of giving you joy and perspective in hard times. Or, they can strangle you. Define you in a way that’s based more in other people’s tucked-up perceptions than truth.” (Page 7) The memory that defined Davis for the longest time was that of a terrified and bullied third grade black girl who did not have courage to face the bullies, her abusive father and the life her family lived. This fear trickled into all parts of her life, add the emotional abandonment that comes with poverty and being black. Chapter 8 tugged my heart. Davis overcomes the secrets, the shame and the silence to find a home for that little girl who endured great pain.

Davis writes about purpose; searching for it, realizing it and aligning one’s actions with the purpose, the truth and the light. You have to be able to see it and Davis saw it in Miss Cicely Tyson on TV and experienced the true power of artistry. Many people talk a lot about how Viola Davis went to Juilliard, the glamour and opportunities that come with that Juilliard tag. In this memoir, she ropes in the reader into the truth and work behind the tag. Her big break came because she was prepared for the role she believed was made for her. Opportunity, luck or magic must be met by preparation because that’s where everything aligns. Purpose is also about survival, surviving the rocks thrown on one’s path, the struggle, the self doubt, fear and the pain just so that one can fulfill what they are called to do.

Love is an important theme in this book. From the sisterhood with her siblings to the communion with her husband and their daughter, Davis reveals that the work must be done to keep relationships alive. They don’t just happen to you, you have to be a willing and active participant. Her sisters were her platoon, Julius her reward and Genesis her light. Yet still there is that past with her family that she had to face and come to terms with. Davis forgives her abusive father to make room for the love, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a different past.” (Page 230). I am inspired by the forgiveness and grace that she extends to him. Forgiveness is not easy for most and Davis shows that as difficult as it is, it is possible. Sometime last year I read Daring Greatly by Brenè Brown (you can read my review here) where she talks about vulnerability feeling like courage. Davis had to be courageous in order to heal and that looked like being vulnerable and forgiving herself and others.

This is officially one of my favourite memoirs and best reads of the year. The honesty and hope in this book is encouraging. You need to read this book. I’ll be adding this one to that special shelf where books that deserve to be read more than once belong. Davis invites us to a front row seat to watch and learn from her journey of healing, radical self love and living a purpose driven life.


Book Details

Title: Finding Me

Author: Viola Davis

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Coronet Books (2022)

Pages: 304

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I have always wondered about Viola Davis' acting history, especially before How to Get Away with Murder (for the series was my first interaction with her work). I am happy that the book is here, and the review captures a key concept of purpose, her pursuit to 'finding me'. Can't wait to plough it too 😍😍

Rutendo Chichaya
Rutendo Chichaya
Jul 05, 2022
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You’ll enjoy it!

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