Book Review: Finding Me by Viola Davis


Viola Davis’s memoir, Finding Me, is a powerful story of self-discovery and transformation.
Just like Jeannette Walls, the author of The Glass Castle, Davis begins her story with a
description of horrific childhood memories. The memoirs’ raw details of the dysfunction
present in these authors’ families evokes strong emotions of grief, anger, sadness, and pain.
These stories highlight the impact of alcoholism, poverty, abuse, self-loathing, and mental
illness on their lives, as well as the need for resilience and strength to overcome these
challenges. Both stories highlight the importance of family, mentorship, and support in one’s
journey toward success and well-being.

The title of Davis’s memoir, Finding Me, encapsulates its theme, which is the journey to know
oneself. She has achieved many awards for her work, such as the Primetime Emmy Award and
two Screen Actors Guild Awards for her work on TV. For her work in the theatre, she has won
two Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards. And for her work in film, she has won an
Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, three Critics’ Choice
Movie Awards, and four Screen Actors Guild Awards. Davis is one of just a few performers to
have won the four major American entertainment awards (EGOT) and only the third to achieve
both the EGOT and the Triple Crown of Acting.

Award-winning journalist Jeannette Walls soon concluded that money and awards was not the
answer to happiness. However, setting goals, working hard, and finding one’s purpose can lead to holistic well-being and prosperity beyond material wealth. Both Walls’s and Davis’s journeys,
full of difficult incidents and complex situations, are testaments to the human spirit’s resilience,
strength, and talent. Davis also believed initially that money would be the answer to her discontentment with life, and that achieving success would detox her from poverty and feelings of being “less-than.” However, after becoming an award-winning, highly paid, and sought-after actress, she continued to be unhappy. Through each of their journeys, these authors discovered that what people fundamentally care about universally is quality of life and holistic well-being,
which goes beyond material wealth.

Davis’s memoir Finding Me has two themes: self-discovery, as discussed previously, as well as
another key thread regarding how to set goals like a champion. She credits her older sister for
encouraging her to set goals and make a plan in order to achieve an abundantly prosperous life.
Davis eventually discovered her purpose, mission, and vision through her talent and skills in
acting. She saw Cicely Tyson’s performance in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman as a
young woman, which inspired her to pursue an acting career. Davis’s memoir shows how
setting goals and working hard can lead to success, but also how self-discovery can lead to

Davis’s title, Finding Me, clearly denotes her theme of the search for the self. Researchers have
hypothesized that this leveling off happens because of one simple factor innate in most of us:
ambition beyond material wealth. “Once people fulfill their basic physical needs, human beings
aspire to much more,” Adler said, including “having a sense of engagement in their work,
meaning and purpose in their lives, high-quality relationships, [and] a sense of autonomy.”

Overall, both Walls’s and Davis’s memoirs are powerful stories of self-discovery, resilience, and
transformation. Both these memoirs scream, “Your childhood doesn’t have to be your legacy!” I
strongly recommend Finding Me as a must-read for anyone seeking to witness the joys,
victories of setting goals like a champion.

Published by Diane Williams

Author. Freelance Writer. Copywriter. Inspirational Speaker. Coaching is a catalyst for professional and personal transformation and growth. Tune in to the Coach Diane Podcast, where Certified Coach Diane will discuss personal development, wellness, and leadership. I COACH TO SERVE... I COACH TO CONNECT... I COACH TO CHANGE...

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