• Viola Davis said she decided to write her memoir because she found that she "was still hiding a huge part of my story"
  • The actress hoped to find her "peace" after unpacking her memories and resolving them
  • Davis said the trauma and bullying she endured growing up have given her an "extraordinary sense of compassion"

Viola Davis got candid as she reflected on the "enormous existential crisis" she went through before deciding to write a memoir.

The "How to Get Away with Murder" star will reveal her story and explore her hidden trauma in her upcoming memoir, "Finding Me."

In a cover story interview with People ahead of her memoir's release, the Tony, Oscar and Emmy winner explained what drove her to write the book.

"I always thought acting defined my life, and it doesn't," Davis said. "What people in the world tell you is that if you find that thing that you do, that you are great at, then that's it. And you have money in the bank, and you have a house, and you have a cute husband, and he loves you and your kid, that's it. And it's not."

However, Davis — who has been married to Julius Tennon, 68, for almost 19 years and shares 11-year-old daughter Genesis with the actor — said she "was still hiding a huge part of my story."

"It's almost like I reinvented all the things that I wanted to and tossed away the rest of it," she explained. "You know when you look at pictures down memory lane, and you see it differently. I'm looking at little Viola, and I see how strong she was and how she was just a spitfire."

She continued, "I think that's why I wrote the book, that if I somehow explored it, unpacked those memories, resolving them, that somehow I could find my peace."

The 56-year-old actress said that people are often surprised when they learn that she grew up in deep poverty with her parents and five siblings and usually want to hear her story.

Davis went through trauma and heartbreak growing up, including living in a dilapidated building infested with rats, looking for food in dumpsters and enduring incessant bullying by boys who threw rocks at her for being Black. She also witnessed the physical and emotional abuse her alcoholic father inflicted on her mother, and along with her older sisters, survived sexual abuse.

But the "Fences" star said she counts all these experiences as "joy" and owns them because they are "part of who I am."

"Everything I've experienced is what connects me to the world. It's given me an extraordinary sense of compassion. It's reconciling that young girl in me and healing from the past — and finding a home," Davis explained.

According to Davis, "Finding Me" is a "deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self." She said she hopes that her story would inspire others to live their life and "rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you."

Davis' memoir "Finding Me" will hit the bookshelves on April 26.

US actress Viola Davis in a white Alexander McQueen gown with cutouts
US actress Viola Davis in a white Alexander McQueen gown with cutouts POOL / Chris Pizzello