Viola Davis Recalls Growing Up With "No Food": "I Was Always So Hungry"

Award-winning actress reveals struggles of poverty

By Samantha Benitz Mar 11, 2015 7:53 PMTags
E! Placeholder Image

From an empty fridge to a shelf full of awards.

Viola Davis recently opened up to Glamour magazine about her childhood and shared her experience about growing up with "no food."

The 49-year-old actress said her family's low income caused her to constantly strategize how to get food, and she even remembers digging through a Dumpster at one point.

"I was always so hungry and ashamed; I couldn't tap into my potential. I couldn't get at the business of being me," she said about her long and hungry days at school.

ABC/Mitch Haaseth

Davis grew up with five siblings on her grandmother's farm, a former slave plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. Her mother had an eighth-grade education and her father only made it to fifth grade.

After struggling with poverty herself, Davis realized she could be of assistance to the nearly 17 million kids in America who are still hungry. The Help actress has already raised over $4.5 million for the new campaign Hunger Is.

"Friends like [Shonda] Rhimes and [Meryl] Streep are supporters, and yes, I'm going to hit up more of my friends," revealed Davis. "This is the richest country in the world. There's no reason kids should be going to school hungry. Food is something that everyone should have. It just is."

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

The Golden Globe-nominated star says it has taken years of therapy, the loving support from her husband of 11 years, Julius Tennon, and the adoption of their daughter, Genesis for her to accept all of her achievements and shortcomings in life.

"Your ability to adapt to failure, and navigate your way out of it, absolutely 100 percent makes you who you are." Davis went on, "I tell my daughter every morning, 'Now, what are the two most important parts of you?' And she says, 'My head and my heart.' Because that's what I've learned in the foxhole: What gets you through life is strength of character and strength of spirit and love."

Glamour's April issue will hit national newsstands on March 17.