ENTERTAINMENT
12/05/2017 01:02 pm ET

Viola Davis Lays Down The Heartbreaking Truth Of Being Denied Health Care

"That is the dignity being taken away from you when you don’t have any money."
Honoree Viola Davis speaks at the ACLU Bill of Rights dinner on Dec. 3. in Beverly Hills, California.
Matt Winkelmeyer via Getty Images
Honoree Viola Davis speaks at the ACLU Bill of Rights dinner on Dec. 3. in Beverly Hills, California.

Viola Davis knows the devastating effects of poverty firsthand. 

Over the weekend, the “How To Get Away With Murder” actress, who grew up in “abject poverty,” shared a devastating story about the time her father was denied health care while suffering from a gall bladder infection. 

“He had an infection and he walked three miles to the hospital in 12-degree weather,” Davis said at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Bill of Rights Awards gala on Sunday. ”[He] got to the hospital to sit for another five hours before the doctor said, ‘You got to go home, you look like a drug addict.’” 

“He leaves the hospital. He walked three miles back home. He sits for another three days before gangrene start setting in and he walked back to the hospital and they finally admitted him,” she said, via The Hollywood Reporter. “That is the dignity being taken away from you when you don’t have any money. You don’t have access to health care. You have no food.” 

Davis has previously recalled stealing food and looking in maggot-ridden garbage bins for something to eat during her childhood. Her family was so poor that they couldn’t afford bus fare, and Davis often walked to school in shoes with holes so big that she was basically walking in socks. Though the actress has said she was happy as a child, she also “grew up in immense shame.”

Now, the Oscar winner works to shine a light on the millions of Americans who are suffering from poverty today.

“I have two mottos for 2017 and they are ‘I’m doing the best I can’ and ‘I’m gonna leave it all on the floor,’” she said Sunday night. 

CONVERSATIONS