Your Past Does Not Define You..Only You Can!
Updated: Mar 17
If you watch any television, movies or even Broadway plays, then you’re probably a big fan of Viola Davis. Since beginning her acting career in the early nineties, Ms. Davis has gone on to become one of the best (and best-loved) actors alive. She is the first African-American actress to be honored with an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony award for her breakthrough performances in film, television and the stage.
She’s a brilliant performer, who brings her characters to life with passion and intensity. To look at her now, you would think her life was always one of Hollywood red carpets, leading men like Denzel Washington, and all of the perks of being rich and famous. Some people would call her “lucky.” They would be wrong.
Born on a plantation in South Carolina, her family eventually moved and settled in a poor section of Rhode Island. In her own words, she grew up in “abject poverty and dysfunction” during her childhood. Her memories were of living in “rat-infested and condemned apartments.” To ease the pain of her surroundings, she turned to making up scripts and play-acting. She became serious about acting in high school and pursued theater at Rhode Island College, before attending the prestigious Julliard School for four years.
What followed was more than 20 years of hard work that culminated in her Oscar-winning performance for her role in the movie, Fences. Viola is such an inspiration to me, in more ways than one. First, she is a living example of the title of this post: Your past does not define you—only you can! Viola grew up in horrible circumstances, but she turned the circumstances on their head. Rather than being overcome by them, she overcame them by letting the negativity push her to success.
She also stands for a proposition that I also believe with all my heart: We all have something to share, and the greatest tragedy is leave this world without sharing your gift. This is what she said during her Oscar Acceptance speech: “You know, there is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered and that’s the graveyard.” She continued, “People ask me all the time — what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories — the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost.”
I couldn’t have said it better. For so many of my readers, I know that you have a dream inside of you. I know there’s a butterfly that wants to come out and become all that you can be. You want to fly, but there are so many obstacles. Whether it’s fear, or doubt or things people may have said, you’ve been afraid to shine. Maybe you just lack a little confidence.
Well I hope Viola’s story has encouraged you to let go of all of that and to step up to your true potential. But if you need a little more; perhaps a friend to hold your hand and walk with you on that path, I would be honored to be that guide.
I’ve created a Confidence Course which contains my best, personal teaching on how you can begin to create the kind of confidence that pushed Viola and others like her to great heights.
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