Five Books Pivotal to Viola Davis’s Journey

Oprah Daily

Viola Davis has spent years building a dazzling career, at first distancing herself from a past of poverty and trauma, and ultimately reconciling with that past. The actor’s artistic achievements as the first African American to earn the Triple Crown of acting, with an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony to her name, were exciting at first, but she eventually realized that the past still haunted her. She decided to stop running and interrogate her history in order to understand her present and embrace her own story.

Davis embarked on a hero’s journey of self-discovery like the one described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which she referenced in her interview with Oprah, saying, “As you go down this path of transformation, of really trying to become your ideal self, you are going to meet the part of yourself that you don’t want to be. You are going to see all your flaws; you are going to see all of the things that cause you pain. You are not going to see God; you are going to see you. And then you hope that when you meet that self that you no longer want to be, you have two choices at that point: You can just stay there and be swallowed, or you can move on. I choose to move on. I didn’t want to be swallowed. “

Here are five books that inspired her along her journey. What they share is the importance of looking within, as Brené Brown says – identifying your feelings, and returning to core values ​​through the discovery of one’s true, authentic self.

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1

Atlas of the Heartby Brené Brown

Brené Brown’s groundbreaking latest book builds on her 20-plus years of pioneering research to explore and expand the vocabulary of feelings. Brown says emotions are multilayered and consist of biology, biography, behavior and backstory. Through revelation of these emotions, it is necessary to make meaningful human connection grounded in your values.

2

The Color Purpleby Alice Walker

It’s been almost 40 years since Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was published. Oprah called it one of the “national anthems for women empowerment.” In it, Celie is separated from her sister Nettie, and suffers at the hands of her husband in rural Georgia. The women in The Color Purple, among them Sofia and Shug Avery, struggle against misogyny and racism; through their friendships and support, the women are resilient and triumphant. In this American classic, Walker drew women who were complicated, tragic, fierce, and inspiring.

3

Braving the Wildernessby Brené Brown

Brown emphasizes the key practices of “true belonging,” She says we can reconnect with who we really are by standing alone and strong amid an increasingly distracting, perfectionist world. A key factor? Embracing nature.

4

The Hero with a Thousand Facesby Joseph Campbell

Inspiring many, including filmmaker George Lucas, The Hero with a Thousand Faces was first published in 1949. In it, Joseph Campbell introduces the “monomyth,” which focuses on the idea that every myth follows the same structure. He refers to the archetypal hero, who appears in most mythology, foundational stories, and religions. Through separation, the person leaves their familiar condition to embark on the hero’s journey. During initiation, the hero discovers new experiences and ordeals, and must locate their inner strength in order to get through. In returning, the hero is transformed and serves others through impartation of knowledge and sometimes sacrifice. Individually, we have to take a spiritual journey, leave behind what is comfortable, and challenge ourselves to discover our true potential.

5

The Power of Nowby Eckhart Tolle

Tolle teaches what most therapists are embracing, and that is to be fully present in the now. He writes that giving undue weight to the past can paralyze and hinder your path forward. The same applies for living in the future and not acknowledging your current situation. In recognizing and then quieting our thoughts and fears, and not letting our egos derail us, we can find the path to true fulfillment.

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