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Viola Davis on 'The Help' and its female characters at the forefront (Video)

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08/14/2011 by Kristina Lopez

In "The Help," Viola Davis plays a black domestic worker in 1960s Mississippi. However, the actress says that the heart of the story lies in the relationships between the characters and not the social movement of the time.

"I always say [the] civil rights movement is at the backdrop and what's at the forefront are these relationships and they captivate you with their heart, their need to be a part of each other's lives and that's what life is about in the end," Davis told George Pennacchio of KABC Television, OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company, at the premiere of the film on August 9.

In "The Help," Emma Stone plays Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, an aspiring writer and college graduate who was partially raised by a black maid in 1960s. She decides to write a book from the perspective of the domestic workers in the area with the help of Aibileen (Davis), Minnie (Octavia Spencer) and their peers.

"The Help" is based on a 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett. It also stars Bryce Dallas Howard of "Twilight" fame, whose character acts snotty around the "help." The movie hits theaters on Wednesday, August 10.

The actress also said that the film also puts women of color in a prominent roles, despite some controversy over the fact that those roles are as domestic workers. "You're going to see more women of color in this movie than any other movie this year and we are at the forefront. And really good actors," Davis told Pennacchio. "Sometimes people get caught up in the controversy and they forget to celebrate the work and you know what? Really excellent work is hard to find."

In a previous interview with OnTheRedCarpet.com, Davis touched on the subject of stereotypes and how the role of Aibileen was real to her. "I knew who Aibileen and Minny were, very much because they're my people," Davis told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "They're my mom and my grandmother, my aunts. That's why I did it. I felt a huge responsibility to the people, the women in my life."

Davis, who turned 46 on Thursday, hails from South Carolina and has appeared in movies such as the 2008 film "Doubt" and "Knight and Day" with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in 2010. She also played Lynda P. Frazier on the Showtime series "United States of Tara" before nabbing her role in "The Help."

At the premiere, Davis also talked about how part of her work playing the role involved a physical aspect to how she carried herself as the character. "Part of the way the character went was I felt like she had the weight of the world on her. She lost a son," Davis said. "What else is there but your child in terms of purpose? I think by the end she finds it."

Check out a trailer for "The Help" below.

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