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Actress Viola Davis, center, poses with guest speaker Deborrah Lewis, right, and Alma Gene Harris at the YWCA luncheon Tuesday in Seattle. (Photo by Carole Carmichael / The Seattle Times)
Actress Viola Davis, center, poses with guest speaker Deborrah Lewis, right, and Alma Gene Harris at the YWCA luncheon Tuesday in Seattle. (Photo by Carole Carmichael / The Seattle Times)

Sharing her story of being raised in “abject poverty and violence” and “wanting better,” award-winning actress Viola Davis inspired a YWCA lunch gathering to dig deep into their pockets and support the work of the YWCA.
“We come from a history of women who constantly hide their strengths and don’t ask for what they want,” said Davis, who won a Tony Award in 2010 for her co-starring role in “Fences” with Denzel Washington for her portrayal of a wife whose marriage falls apart due to infidelity.
“Any woman who has been raped, doesn’t have a Ph.D., is a stay-at-home mom, has bad skin problems, I salute you. It is hard to toot your own horn,” she told the audience of 2,200 gathered at the Washington State Convention Center.
She talked about a new role she’s taking on as a producer, advocating for better portrayals of the stories of women of color.
“You’ve got to live a life bigger than yourself. You have to be released from the fear of anything and you have to be honest about where you are,” said the actress who gave an Oscar-nominated performance of a maid in the movie “The Help.”
“Forgiveness is giving us all hope of a different past. We need to heal from all of it before we’re going to give anything to anyone else.”
Earlier, testimonial speaker Deborrah Lewis brought the room to tears with her story of domestic violence and the resources of the YWCA, which helped her break that cycle.
Today’s event — the second of three fundraising lunches this spring — raised $850,087, bringing a total of $1.23 million toward its goal of $1.4 million.