Viola Davis’ Messy Character On ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ Is The New Heroine

Much has been written about Viola Davis’ character on How To Get Away With Murder. Although the show hasn’t even premiered yet, Davis has garnered attention because she is one of few African Americans leading their own shows on primetime television.

Not only that, but Viola Davis has openly said that actresses that have darker skin aren’t seen leading their own shows. While its nice to see Kerry Washington receive nominations, we rarely see women like Viola Davis hold their own on primetime.

In an interview with Deadline, Viola Davis points out this rarity.

“‘I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this. And you can’t even mention Halle Berry or Kerry Washington,’ referring to two African-American stars with lighter skin. Whether the show is a hit or not depends on viewers’ acceptance of ‘a woman of color, of a certain age and a certain hue.'”

Although Viola has been nominated for Academy Awards, she has played characters that service another character’s journey, or is placed in the background of a feature film. For this and so much more, Davis’ character on the ABC show How To Get Away With Murder, is something worth seeing.

Davis tells E! that the character Annalise Keating is “messy,” multi layered and makes decisions with motives that are unclear and not cookie cutter.

In How To Get Away With Murder Davis plays Annalise, a complicated professor, who teaches first year law students. Simple premise, right? Wrong.

Executive producer Peter Nowalk explains the character a little further.

“I wanted to create someone who was enigmatic and controversial and dark. I think people are much darker than we give them credit for on TV. I think when people are put in extreme situations, they are much darker and do shocking things and it doesn’t make them bad people.”

Most of the character’s flaws in How To Get Away With Murder are suggestions made by Davis herself.

“Viola has said, ‘People don’t function that way,’ and I completely agree. I think they’re weird and unpredictable. And they might be nice one minute and mean the next. We’re emotional animals.”

“What’s awesome is the network did not ever give me one note in making Annalise clearer, or making her more specific about her mission here. And that’s why getting Viola has been this lucky opportunity, aside from the fact that she’s Viola and can do anything in the world.”

How To Get Away With Murder airs Thursday on ABC.

[Image via ABC]