Viola Davis and 'Woman King' Director Defend Against Backlash Calling for Boycott of Movie

·3 min read
Viola Davis, Gina Prince-Bythewood
Viola Davis, Gina Prince-Bythewood

Santiago Felipe/Getty Viola Davis and Gina Prince-Bythewood

The Woman King actress Viola Davis and director Gina Prince-Bythewood are speaking out about the #BoycottWomanKing social media backlash.

In an interview with Variety earlier this week, Davis was asked about the film, which some feel "doesn't address the Dahomey Kingdom's involvement in slavery," the outlet noted.

"First of all, I agree with Gina Prince-Bythewood's saying is you're not going to win an argument on Twitter," said the Oscar winner, 57. "We entered the story where the kingdom was in flux, at a crossroads."

She added, "They were looking to find some way to keep their civilization and kingdom alive. It wasn't until the late 1800s that they were decimated. Most of the story is fictionalized. It has to be."

Produced by Davis and her husband Julius Tennon, "The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen," an official synopsis read.

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THE WOMAN KING - Viola Davis
THE WOMAN KING - Viola Davis

Sony Pictures The Woman King (2022)

RELATED: Viola Davis Says She's "Open" to The Woman King Sequel After Film Opens to No. 1 at Box Office

Prince-Bythewood, indeed, did tell IndieWire in an interview published Saturday, "I learned early on you cannot win an argument on Twitter."

"And I know all of that is going to go away once they see the film," added the director, 53. "There's an assumption we're not dealing with it, and we are dealing with it. So I have to live in that confidence. They're going to see the film and they're going to see it."

Speaking with Variety, Tennon, 68, noted, "We are now what we call 'edu-tainment.' It's history but we have to take license. We have to entertain people. If we just told a history lesson, which we very well could have, that would be a documentary."

"Unfortunately, people wouldn't be in the theaters doing the same thing we saw this weekend. We didn't want to shy away from the truth," the producer added. "The history is massive and there are truths on that that are there. If people want to learn more, they can investigate more."

RELATED VIDEO: Viola Davis Says She Has "Swagger" When Grocery Shopping After Training for The Woman King

The Woman King debuted at No. 1 at the domestic box office over the weekend, grossing over $19 million nationwide, Entertainment Weekly reported.

Aside from sharing with Variety that she's "totally open to" a sequel, Davis also told the outlet that the "part of the story that hit me as an artist was these women were unwanted."

"They were recruited between the ages of 8 and 14. They were the women who were not considered desirable. No one wanted to marry them," the How to Get Away with Murder alum said. "They were unruly. They were recruited by the King to fight for the kingdom of Dahomey. They were not allowed to marry or have children. The ones who refused the call were beheaded."

"That's also a part of the story. People really are being emotionally shifted," Davis added. "I saw a TikTok video today of women in a bathroom of an AMC theater, and I don't think they knew each other. They were all chanting and ruminating. That cannot be quantified by words."

The Woman King is in theaters now.