Viola Davis on shifting the narrative of black women: 'It is no longer acceptable to be defined by men'

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Viola Davis took the opportunity to share that she wanted her life to matter at the Cannes Film Festival, where she received the Women In Motion award. 

The Woman King star used to think being an actress was her way of making her mark on the world, but she has realised that "elevating" opportunities for people of colour is where she can make a real impact.

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"As a little chocolate girl, that grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island, in abject poverty, with a certain level of poverty, I always wanted my life to matter.

"I wanted to leave this earth with a big fat hole in it, and I felt the way to do that was to become an actress, but now that I've progressed in my career, what I've realised is that I want to elevate storytelling for people of colour," she said at the glitzy dinner.

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The 56-year-old star has always tried to "be the change" she wanted to see in Hollywood.

"It means an acknowledgement of my legacy, which is what I want to shift the narrative of women of colour to.

"It's no longer acceptable for us to be defined by men, defined by any other structure other than ourselves, and it became obvious to me as I was progressing in my career that I had to be the change that I wanted to see.

"I want to see black women for the beautiful complicated beings that they are," she added.

Viola's receipt of the award came a few days after she revealed that a director, who she'd known for more than a decade, once mistakenly called her by his maid's name.

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