Viola Davis Talks Past Battle With Alopecia Areata

Life & Love | Camille Travis | 10/07/2014 | 11:45 AM EDT

The actress discusses the loss of her hair at age 28 and the insecurities that came along with it

As Viola Davis rides high on the success of ABC's new hit drama "How To Get Away With Murder," she's also passing along her personal tips on how to get to happiness.

In an interview with Vulture, the Oscar-nominated actress listed her 14 steps to living a more fulfilled life, based on her 49 years of experience. For step ten, "Show Yourself," Davis discussed losing her hair to alopecia areata and overcoming the insecurities that came with the condition.


The passage stated:

"When Davis was 28, she lost half her hair to alopecia areata. 'I woke up one day and it looked like I had a Mohawk. Big splash of bald on the top of my head,' she says. 'I was like, What is this? Until I found out it was stress related. That's how I internalized it. I don't do that anymore. My favorite saying in the world is, 'The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.' I am telling you, I have spent so much of my life not feeling comfortable in my skin. I am just so not there anymore.'

After that alopecia, she wore a wig everywhere. 'I wore a wig in the Jacuzzi. I had a wig I wore around the house. I had a wig that I wore to events. I had a wig that I wore when I worked out. I never showed my natural hair. It was a crutch, not an enhancement … I was so desperate for people to think that I was beautiful. I had to be liberated from that [feeling] to a certain extent.' So at the 2012 Oscars, she exposed her 'natural hair.' She still has her wigs; she wears them on Murder, she wears them to photo shoots, she wears them when she doesn't have time to pick out her hair and get rid of her grays, but she no longer wears them in her everyday life. What matters, she says, is that 'it's an option … when it used to never be an option. I had something to hide.'

In 2012, Davis told InStyle her husband was the one who urged her to show her real hair at the Academy Awards, as she was up for Best Actress (The Help). As it turns out, her short, copper cut was a winner on the red carpet.

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