Of late bloomers and the magic of Viola Davis

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Image result for viola davis

Do you remember primary school, and how people got double promotions, like “jazz”?

I mean… one day, you were sitting next to each other in English class. Exchanging heart-littered scraps of paper.

Next day, they were rolling with the big girls and boys.

They - the ones who scored 101% in all the exams – would be handpicked by the school authorities, and either given double promotions at the end of the session, to two classes ahead, or they could simply be promoted smack in the middle of a school term. They were the gifted ones. The geniuses.

Lord help you if your parents were familiar with any of the gifted ones.

“Tina… how come I don’t see Jumoke in your class again”
“Mummy… she got double promotion, and was moved to Primary 6”
“And you are here, busy watching Voltron. C’mmon get up from there and start reading your Geography!!!”

(As if it was Voltron who forgot to put ‘genius’ in my head.)

Tsk. Tsk.

If you had thought the segregation between geniuses and ‘iti boribo’ (ask your Igbo friends to help you) would end with Common Entrance exams, you thought totally wrong. Shebi in primary school, the ‘geniuses’ were usually a handful… one or two gifted children.

The segregation in Secondary School was on a whole different level, made evident upon the release of the Junior WASSCE results.

In my school (for example) the outgoing JSS3 students would all be summoned to the Assembly Hall. If you heard your name called, this means you made the requisite Distinctions and Credits to be in “Science Class” in the incoming session, and you would move to the right.

Except you did not want to study sciences in senior secondary school, and clearly indicated so.

If you did not hear your name called, well… you were a statistic, to naturally maintain your “Arts Class” status.

Thus, Science students to the rights, Arts students to the left.

(Like that story in the Bible of the goats and the sheep)

For those of us who were well aware that our home was with the Arts, we remained undaunted, and warmly welcomed into the fold the “Science students” who dropped out from time to time, due to the pressures of Further Mathematics and “Phy-Chem-Bi”.

Some stayed back, and did really well in the sciences. Others who stayed on for the (misplaced) ego of being a Science student, flopped their way through school. Some of the ones who joined the Arts excelled there as well. And every once in a (generator-powered) blue moon, one or two left the Arts to join the Sciences.

The ones who never ceased to amaze me however were those students no one paid any particular attention to and had hitherto, never exhibited any extra-ordinary intelligence pers se, who towards the end of school. Then, they begin making waves almost at the end of school, scoring all A’s in exams, and clear the Senior WASSCE exams in distinctions.

At one sitting.

I mean, these ones got no double promotions. They were not particularly identified as “geniuses”, or “intelligent”, or “gifted”. They may or may not have been handpicked specially to join the Science gang, and probably were not winning any prizes on prize-giving days. It is as though they wait till the end of secondary school approaches, before they come right out of the blues, begin acing all the exams and quite suddenly, take all the A’s.

Did you know any of those ones? Well… I did. And there’s a name for them:

Late Bloomers.

According to Wikipedia, these are people “whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual. These ones have been written off as ‘ordinary’, or were perhaps, hitherto too insignificant to be written about at all. They appear from (basically) nowhere, and surpass their contemporaries in their chosen field of creativity, talent, skill or knowledge.

Their story is almost always Cinderella-esque:. One day, ordinary. Next day, royalty.

Except that in their case, their status is not gifted by a fairy god-mother. It is birthed from talents and capabilities which they probably never harnessed earlier, or just were not fortunate enough for the said talents to be recognized by the larger community.

In modern times, no one quite portrays - in living flesh and blood - the wonder of the Late Bloomer phenomenon like Viola Davis.

Granted, Viola has been around for a while. Since the 1990s actually.

But for an industry where your ‘prime’ is considered somewhere between 18 and 25, and your career could be dead already if you had not landed a prominent role by your early twenties, cameo television appearances just may become your mainstay forever. Thus, beginning a career in entertainment at 28 years old could be considered pretty late.

Throw in that she’s a woman. And a minority (black). And the fact that she did not launch squarely into popular-demand movies.

She began with acting on stage, and kept playing not-so-prominent television roles for a while.

It was not until 2008, when she starred in the drama Doubt, alongside veterans like Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, that she really caught our attention. Since then, she has played amazing roles, like Aibileen Clark in “the Help”, Rose Maxson in ”Fences”, and the star of Shonda Rhimes’ “How to get away with murder”, Annalise Keating.

Within the past ten years, Viola has earned numerous accolades and awards, including scoring the triple whammy of Hollywood, comprising of an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony award. All of these awards, she won for movies she acted well on her way to her fifties.

Image result for viola davis

Beyond the accolades, Viola Davis is a FINE actor. She transcends portrayal of the roles she is given, and basically transports her audience to the reality that persona is faced with.

Viola Davis is an amazing professional. Late bloomer… and all.

Moral: This is not saying rest on your oars, and wait till you’ve begun using hearing aid and a walking stick, before harnessing your talents and chasing your dreams.

This is saying that perhaps, you were not fortunate enough to discover your given talents early enough, or to be given the opportunity to maximize the said talents early enough.

This is saying that perhaps, in your chosen field or specialty, there are already “geniuses”, who have been handpicked as the ones most likely to be successful, while you occupy your role as an unnamed statistic.

Do not be dismayed. Do not be daunted. There is never a time that is ‘too late’ to launch into your dreams.

Keep polishing your talents and honing your skills, so that in that moment when the limelight is suddenly before you, you can boldly step in, and sparkle your way to the top.

Remember that not everybody is a Dakota Fanning or a Leonardo DiCaprio or a Kirsten Dunst. Sometimes, we are Violas.

If there is only one lesson however I have learnt from Viola Davis and Late Bloomers, it is that they never stopped trying. Or else, they never would have bloomed.



Photo-Credits: Viola Davis

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  1. Woooow, I was able to relate so well with this cz I seem to fit into this "late bloomers" class; yet to blossom though��

    Nice one dear.

  2. When I see Viola Davies, I see HOPE. Nice one Meg ������

  3. This is speaking to me. Thanks Meg.

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  5. More like be persistent in what you love, horn your skills and trust the process. Beautiful article.

    You'd be saying serious issue with plenty comdey. I love your style of writing. Chimamanda Adiche writes like you. Lol.