L’Oréal Paris has been on a mission lately to make one thing clear—every woman is “worth it,” no matter her age. Over the past few years, the beauty brand’s been working to expand its roster of spokeswomen beyond the typical starlets in their twenties. Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren, Courteney Cox, and Vanessa Williams have all been tapped to be a part of the L’Oréal family. In fact, as of this fall, its portfolio included nine women over the age of 40. Now its latest announcement makes 10.
At 54 years old, actress and activist Viola Davis is the new face of L’Oréal Paris, making it her first-ever contract with a big beauty brand. (And if you’ve ever seen her walk a red carpet or watched a minute of her on How to Get Away With Murder, you’ll join me in saying it’s about freaking time.)
Davis announced the news on Instagram today, writing: “The self affirming words of, ‘Because I’m worth it’ have always given me chill bumps. What a joy it will be to not just say them over and over again…but to spread the message of worth to women around the world. It is a gift.”
Introduced by L’Oréal’s deputy general manager (and Glamour Women of the Year, All Year honoree) Anne Marie Nelson-Bogle at an intimate press event yesterday, Viola told a crowd of beauty editors exactly what being labeled “worth it” means to her.
“I believe that the greatest privilege is to be who you are,” she said. “No apologies for your age, your color, anything. As long as you’re you and living up to who that is and what that means, you’re worth it. That’s self-worth.”
She went on to tell the room how when she began acting she felt pressure to conform to Hollywood’s “classic” (read: stale, singular, Eurocentric ) definition of “pretty.”
“Earlier in my career when I was much more affected, [conforming] almost felt like prerequisite to success, which is crazy if you think about it—what do looks have to do with acting ability?” she said. “In order to succeed, you had to meet these impossible standards. Now I am much more secure in who I am, but there was a time that I did feel those pressures and succumb to them to a degree.”
But also, she pointed to her role as Annalise Keating on HTGAWM (who wasn’t originally written to be a black woman) as proof Hollywood is evolving. “To have been a part of that shift is so powerful and humbling,” she said.