There Are Three Words Viola Davis Would Rather Not Hear Anymore

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Viola Davis. Photo: Jason Merritt/ Getty Images/2011 Getty Images

Viola Davis has quietly established herself as the Oscar front-runner in the Lead Actress category, but when asked at the Hollywood Reporter's recent actress roundtable about the "dignity" she brought to her character Aibileen in The Help, Davis smiled painfully. (Their description!) "I love and hate the word 'dignity,'" she explained. "I feel it's overused for black actresses, as with 'sassy" and 'soulful.' I can go on. The same adjectives are pulled out of a magic box. That's who she is in the book. My job was to create her." Take note, awards-season speechwriters! In fact, Davis prefers leaving dignity behind when she's picking a part. "One of my favorite roles I ever played was a serial killer," she told the roundtable. "It was for television, Law & Order. I appreciated killing a whole family with a baseball bat. You know, sometimes one person's junk is another person's treasure."