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The film “Woman King”, crucial for the future of black women in cinema, according to Viola Davis

In an interview with AFP on Wednesday, the Oscar-winning actress said she felt considerable pressure, believing that this work will be judged differently from films with white directors and actors.

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The film “Woman King”, crucial for the future of black women in cinema, according to Viola Davis

In an interview with AFP on Wednesday, the Oscar-winning actress said she felt considerable pressure, believing that this work will be judged differently from films with white directors and actors.

"Above all, the film must bring in money. And I am divided vis-à-vis that (...) If it does not bring in money, what does that mean? Only black women, dark-skinned women can't top the global box office?" the "Murder" star quipped.

"Afterwards, they will have statistics, saying that Woman King did this, this or that. And that's what worries me," said Viola Davis.

"Because it's just plain wrong. We don't do that with white films. When one film fails, you make another one, and another one," she added.

The Sony film "The Woman King", which depicts the real life of female warriors in the kingdom of Dahomey - located in present-day Benin - in the 19th century, is in many ways a leap into the unknown for a major Hollywood studio.

Viola Davis, the only African American to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award, spent six years trying to convince reluctant studios and producers to bet on the project.

Ultimately, the $100 million budget film features an African-American director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and a predominantly black and female cast.

- "Prove it" -

Viola Davis plays Nanisca, a seasoned warrior who trains the next generation of recruits tasked with fighting against a rival larger African kingdom and European slave traders.

The female army of the kingdom of Dahomey also inspired the fighters of "Black Panther", a film which generated $1.3 billion in revenue worldwide.

Viola Davis called on the public to demonstrate that it is possible to succeed even without a franchise like Marvel.

"If you can spend your money on seeing Avatar or Titanic, you can spend your money on going to see The Woman King," said the Oscar-winning actress for her performance as a scorned wife in "Fences." "And if we are truly equal, then I challenge you to prove it."

- "You will not see us anymore" -

The film was well received at its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, with trade magazine Variety praising a "compelling display of black power" with Viola Davis in her "fierce role".

But the actress regretted that the film's fight scenes drew criticism she deemed misogynistic.

"There are even people, among the black population, who say: Ah, it's a film with dark-skinned women, why are they so masculine? Why aren't they prettier? Why doesn't it couldn't be a romantic comedy?", reported the actress to AFP.

If this film does not bring in money, "you will not see us at all", regretted Viola Davis. "It's the truth. I wish it were different."

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