Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role 2017
SEX WORKER ROLE
Bawd in William Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre 1998
Ruby McCollum in Everybody’s Ruby 1999
First Character Is A Madam. The Second Character Is A Sex Slave
It is a testament to Viola Davis’s talent that she has worked steadily upon her graduation from Julliard. Roles for women are sparse. For a woman of color, they are non-existent. But Viola never let that get in her way. In 1998 she appeared off-Broadway in an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Pericles, Prince of Tyre.” Viola played three roles, one of which was the part of Bawd. She is a madam of a brothel.
The following year Viola would play the challenging role of Ruby McCollum in the off-Broadway play “Everybody’s Ruby.” McCollum was a wealthy African-American in the 1950s convicted of killing a white doctor. However, McCollum would state that she was the doctor’s sex slave. That he had forced her to have sex with him – the play details how the justice system worked against McCollum to get a fair trial.
Some have disputed sexual slavery is sex work because
Playing a sexually abused kidnap victim doesn’t equate to playing someone who works in the sex industry.
However human trafficking is defined as
The trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.
No one would question those women forced into sexual slavery as a sex worker.
Viola Davis as Ruby McCollum in Everybody’s Ruby 1999
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