Actor Viola Davis gave a pointed rundown of the double standard her new filmThe Woman King will face as it gears up for its first box office battle this weekend.
The film features a cast of nearly all Black women, and tells the story of a real-life band of African female warriors in 19th-century Benin (now Dahomey) defending themselves against European slave traders and a rival African kingdom.
Speaking at the Toronto Film Festival, Davis explained how her film will be judged far more harshly if it doesn't do blockbuster numbers than white- or male-led films would be, and called upon fans to come out and see the film if they want Hollywood to make more films with Black and female casts.
Speaking to Agence France Presse at the Toronto International Film Festival, Davis talked about her nerves going into the film's opening weekend.
"First of all, the movie has to make money. And I feel conflicted about that -- that we sort of have one or two chances."
"If it doesn't make money then what it means overall, is that, what, Black women, dark-skinned Black women can't lead a global box office?"
"That's it, period. And now they have data on it because 'Woman King' did a, b and c."
"And that's what I'm conflicted about. Because it simply isn't true. We don't do that with white movies. We simply don't. If a movie fails, you do another movie, and you do another movie just like it."
Davis then encouraged people who support diversity in film to put their money where there mouths are.
"We're all in this together, right? We know that we need each other. We know that we're all committed to inclusion and diversity."
"Then, if you can plop down your money to see 'Avatar,' if you can plop down your money to see 'Titanic,' then you can plop your money into seeing 'The Woman King.'"
And she challenged the notion that The Woman King's significance is based solely on its diversity.
"It's not even that it's just Black female-led, the cultural significance of it. It's a very entertaining movie."
"And if we are indeed equal, then I'm challenging you to prove it."
On Twitter, many applauded Davis' call to action—and there seems to be no shortage of excitement for The Woman King.
So far, it sounds like Davis needn't worry about The Woman King's box office. After its festival debut, the film currently has a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.