I absolutely love, and look forward to this event every year. I even joined the Tampa Chamber's WOI committee last year! Each year, the Chamber has a huge event with an amazing speaker. This year it was 870 women and a few men:-) gathering for lunch and to hear Viola Davis' story. She began her career on stage, has been in a number of films, and also and played Aibileen Clark in The Help. It's my favorite movie, I just love stories about the underdog winning and I was SO looking forward to meeting Viola. There is a more intimate setting before and after the luncheon where the sponsors and VIPs get spend some time with her and get their photo taken so I got to talk with her quite a bit. Viola is so genuine, and down to earth, as we were talking beforehand she was rehearsing what she was going to say in her head and she told me, she still feels like an actor that hasn't made it yet.
Viola was born on her grandmother's farm, which is what was Singleton Plantation, in South Carolina. Her mother was a maid and her father was a horse trainer. Viola described herself as having "lived in abject poverty and dysfunction" during her childhood. The topic she spoke on was "the hero's path" and her own path to being happy and fulfilled in life and love. My 2 favorite things she said were "The biggest offender to your power is not enjoying who you are" and "The 2 most important days in your life are when you were born and the day you figured out why you were born".
I left feeling so motivated and inspired. I think in our world today where everything is so negative, I mean just look at what happened yesterday, the horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon. It's even more meaningful to hear such an amazing story, and have a glimpse into the life of someone you see on the big screen and then can connect with directly. It was absolutely amazing.